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December 25, 2011

So Much More than an Ornament

Merry Christmas to everyone who is lucky enough to be with people they really care about and even more to those who find Christmas a huge challenge with more sadness than gladness attached to it.

We all know that the Christmas season and Christmas Day can be a really difficult time for so many people. As I heard on the CBC yesterday, there probably isn't anyone on the planet who doesn't - if only for a second - experience a moment of existential despair at some point during the holiday season.  It can be very emotional. Expectations. Music. Relatives. Memories. Estrangements. Overindulgence. Conflicting Traditions within families. Blended families. It's ripe with the potential for emotional meltdowns.

It's a time when we can't help but think of so many of the people who are no longer a part of our lives but who remain in our hearts. Or, the memories from childhood Christmases which in my case are full of magical memories; times where the dining room table required every extension inserted to accommodate aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who joined us.  My childhood Christmas memories are probably the happiest memories of my childhood which may explain why Christmas as an adult has been so much - well - less.

When I was with Peggy at The German Market this year and saw the fireplace ornament (above), it immediately transported me back to my childhood and early Christmas mornings with Gordon, my twin brother, when we'd awake long before it was "time to get up."

As children, we shared a bedroom and slept in a bunk bed. He had the top bunk. I slept on the bottom.

We'd awake in the darkness from barely sleeping because of the crescendo of anticipation and excitement. It would probably be around 6:30 am when we could wait no longer. We'd steel out of our bedroom past our parents' room. We knew how to navigate the stairs in our large house to be quiet, although I have no doubt now that they were listening to our every whispered communiques. We knew that if we could make it to the first landing we were almost home free.

Hitting the edge of the living room we'd see the mass of presents and be amazed. Sometimes the pile would slide halfway into the living room. After an awed moment of silent wonder, we'd tiptoe through the living room and head straight for the attached dining room. We were lucky enough to have a real fireplace in the dining room with a black metal grate. Along the mantle hung five stockings. We'd bypass the three that belonged to our older sisters and we'd gingerly take down our own. There would always be a mandarin orange and a candy cane inside. Those were givens. And, then a bunch of other trinkets that we'd dump out to examine.

We'd confer. We'd eat our oranges and suck the minty candy canes and delight in the moment. It was a special time of togetherness between him and I even though we never acknowledged that through words.

So, when I saw this little ornament at the German Market  with just two stockings, hanging down from a fireplace, I immediately thought of him and that time more than 40 some odd years ago that we'd spend together when the house was still silent and my mother and father and older sisters had yet to descend for breakfast and the busiest day of the year would arrive.

Now, what you need to know is that as fraternal twins, we are as different as is possible for two siblings to be.  And, as a result, as adults we have spent more Christmases and most of our adult lives, apart.

I'm actually writing this blog post on Christmas Eve at 4:00 pm as I'm about to get dressed to go to his house for dinner.

I have wrapped up this seemingly ordinary ornament that was made in Germany with a note inside that tells him the same sort of thing that I'm telling you here.  I hope when he reads the note he understands how much this tiny wooden ornament  leads me back to a time when we were connected in a way we would never be again.

It would make our father, who passed away on December 2, very happy to see us together.

I hope my brother's memories of those quiet times on Christmas morning are significant enough for him as well  so that this very small ornament and my very small gesture mean something to him. I'd want him to look at this ornament each year forward and think of me and our togetherness so many years ago.

Love to you if you're reading this, wherever you are and whoever you're with, especially, I should add, if you happen to find yourself alone.


Pauline said...

Hi Gayle: Just read your Blog, you hit the sentimental and caring button on the head. Hope you had a warm and fuzzy visit at your brother's place.
Keep up with the blogs in the New Year so we can all keep track of your new adventures.

Love Pauline

Gayle Mavor said...

Thanks Pauline. Hope you had a good one as well. My brother is a longshoreman and Boilermaker-welder so warm and fuzzy is not really in the repertoire. But, it Christmas Eve was good in its own way. I spent Christmas day with Peggy & Chris and their family.

harriet glynn said...

What a beautiful post Gayle. You captured all of it: the magic, the wonder, the sadness, the despair. Here's to peace and acceptance.

Gayle Mavor said...

Thanks Harriet. I can only imagine the wonder, excitement and frenzied busyness around your house with the energy of Theo. Hope you're having a good Christmas season.

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