Column, Looking Back

Decorations and memories

Some of us (and that includes me) have had our Christmas decorations up since the day after Thanksgiving. But by mid-December “the spirit moves” just about everyone.

As you bring out your boxes of decorations you will find them filled not just with “things,” but memories.

When I start removing items from the boxes my husband, Peter, knows that the decoration process will take awhile because what the boxes hold will take me down Memory Lane.

For me, when the Thanksgiving turkey has been put to rest in the form of soup, it’s time to decorate. The balsam wreath is hung on our front door and the white lights adorning our shrubs and window box are turned on. Many people have not even strung their outside lights but with age comes wisdom so we put ours up on a warm October day. Yes, we got some strange looks and comments but our hands were warm.

There has been a window box beneath our living room window for over 70 years. My father built the first one and my husband has replaced it a couple of times over the years. My parents always had boughs in the box but we have gone a step further and make it a focal point with small white lights.

When it’s time to take the inside decorations from their storage boxes I am always reminded of two friends who have passed away. One gave us a small woven basket with a red ribbon-candy type bow on top. It was filled with potpourri and each year I keep that tradition by filling it once again. Another friend gave me a trio of wax candle choir members dressed in red and white. They are identical to the ones that belonged to my mother. I had accidentally put them in the attic many years ago and they melted from the summer heat. My friend remembered what had happened to them so when she saw them in The Vermont Country Store she immediately thought of me and gave them to me as a gift.

Several years ago my husband, Peter, began giving me ceramic buildings to create a village on our fireplace mantle. It is now filled with buildings that have a special meaning for me. I worked at City Hall so that one has a prominent place in the village. I used to do the banking for work so that building was added to my collection. There is also a church, a library and a “Sweet Shoppe.” The latter was added because I can never pass by a candy shop without getting some sweet treat. The village rests on a blanket of snow and has a white-lit pine garland behind it. A few little trees and some benches complete the village that will provide another season of enjoyment.

We have a beautiful ceramic tree on our dining room cabinet. It was made over 40 years ago by a friend of my mother. The multicolored lights always brighten up a dark winter day.

Our dining room hutch holds a snowman collection, many of which my husband has given me over the years. Our favorite is a “snowman couple” sitting in front of a campfire roasting marshmallows. We spent 25 summers doing just that at Crystal Lake in Barton, Vermont. The light bulb inside makes the fire glow and we reminisce each year about the fun we had sitting by the fire with our own marshmallows on sticks.

As anxious as I am for the decorations to go up after Thanksgiving, our tree doesn’t go up until a couple of weeks before Christmas. Many of the ornaments have a story to tell and I repeat their history each year as we trim the tree. Some belonged to my parents, some are from collections of friends and relatives who have passed away, some are Hallmark ornaments with the year engraved on them, a gift from my late mother-in-law. There are even a few that I made over the years and, as worn as they are, there is always a place for them on our tree.

Christmas is a wonderful time to relive the memories that come back to us this time of year as we decorate our houses and trees. Take time to enjoy your trip down Memory Lane. It’s a special journey!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019.

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