Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Memories

It amazes me the things that become important as we age. This past week, our home was broken into. Not the one we live in now. One that we own and are moving out of. Someone actually took the time to sort through our Christmas ornaments and steal just what appealed to them. We lost 20 years accumulation of Christmas ornaments. Even though I repeatedly tell myself that it is just "stuff", I am hurting. I can always replace "stuff". I am not defined by what I own. But my heart is sore from this loss. It's like losing my home again. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I decorate EVERYTHING! Even the bathroom! This year, it's going to be hard to do that. We've lost almost everything we had to decorate with. All the lights, the garlands, the beads and balls and baubles we've collected over 20 years. Some can be replaced. Others can't. Even if we were to buy the same items, they just wouldn't hold the same memories for us.

Lovely mercury glass ornaments we purchased for our children. Some with golden tinsel hangers and tiny little companion ornaments hanging from them. Beautiful nutcrackers and angels and santa's.

Crystal santa bells and santa figurines from around the world. These I had saved for my youngest daughter for her first Christmas. All she'll have now is the knowledge they were meant for her. I'll be haunting the Salvation Army store to see if I can find them for her. She so loved to move them around and change the display when she was young.

The train set for under the tree. Mark wanted one for years and finally got one from his best friend a few years back. He loves having a train under the tree.

The Hallmark Keepsake ornament from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life.". The tree is not complete without that one. The key ornament for the first Christmas we spent in a home of our own. It was cut to fit our door lock! The Avon carousel tiger ornament. Which happens to be the only gift in 20 years that my husband didn't know about in advance. I'll never forget the look on his face when he found it on the tree. I had told him they were sold out and then stashed it until the following year and hung it up! He was astonished!

The Dan Marino football hero ornament. We searched for 5 years to find that one. And dozens of other Miami Dolphins, Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. ornaments as well. Some that were one of a kind, brought back from vacations his family took.

A veritable blizzard of crocheted snowflakes in many sizes. They usually hang from the ceiling. Mark won't miss those, but I will. I shopped ebay for a year to collect those.

The tree topper my brother-in-law bought just for me one year. A lovely crystal finial that holds lights from the tree inside the top. I wanted a topper that was different than the one everyone else had and Brian listened. I loved that thing.

Every single beaded ornament my grandmother ever made for me or my children. That one breaks my heart. My grandmother died a year and a half ago. There will be no more ornaments from her. I saved every one and never let them leave the house. I'm scared to death to tell my mother these are gone.

The ornaments I bought each year for Cody. Every year, I've purchased another miniature ornament for him and stashed it away special. I wanted him to know, someday, that he was remembered every year along with his siblings. That whole box is gone. I can't stand it. I have nothing of his, but those were something that was meant to show him that I never stopped loving him. Someday, when I find him, I'll have to answer for the time we spent apart. I was hoping to share those with him then. I cannot understand why anyone would take those.

What really throws me is that someone actually took the time to take the string of lights off of our artificial tree!!! They were lights in motion, purchased at CVS in 1990. For Kevin's first Christmas. They stole every single ornament meant to go on the tree. Even the little shoebox sized storage tote of ornaments marked for my husband and myself.

I can comfort myself that some vitally important sentimental items are still here. The child's nativity set bought when the kids were very small. That baby Jesus has been in more places than you can believe. For years, that set was never put away because Jesus had school to go to. The dog chewed off the bottom of one king, and the shepherd never did stand up very well. Mary and Joseph look a bit frazzled from stress. The sheep and camel have been teethed on by every grandchild we have, now. That set currently occupies a space right at child's reach in our living room. My grandchildren will play with the same set their parents did. That comforts me.

The tree skirt that my mother-in-law made one year is still here. It's covered in gingerbread men, which are my favorite part of the season. Even the smell of gingerbread can make me smile. I'll be making gingerbread ornaments with my grandchildren this year. I can't wait.

My collection of Christmas music-which was found tossed into the trash can in the house, was saved. I can still listen to the Lettermen sing Christmas songs.

The village houses and accessories that we have collected over the years are still here. That one surprised me. If I were going to steal something, I'd have taken However, the totes were kind of heavy. I'm glad we still have those. They are a tradition started just for my husband. He loves those buildings and all the fun of setting it up each year.

The shoeboxes of ornaments purchased for the rest of my kids. Those, thank heaven, are still here. I cannot imagine having to explain to my kids what happened to their decorations. They are all moving out and starting their own lives. Lisa has already lost hers in a move. The other kids would be devastated to lose such an emotionally charged item right now.

The train rug my grandmother made. I thank God it is still here. It is all I have left that her hands have touched. I'd have totally fallen apart if it had been gone.

And the stocking collection. I know my family laughs and says I'm obsessed. For me, stockings and gingerbread are the things I like most about Christmas. I don't think anyone can ever have too many stockings. Last year, I got a 7 foot tall stocking shaped like a bear for my brother-in-law and filled it with his family's christmas gifts! I love stockings and everything about them. I have some that are as old as my mother! Some that she made, some that I made. Some that I collected and some that were gifts. I'll be buying more, but I share them now, as well. My stocking collection is still here. I think I can make them the focal point this year and get past the loss.

But I am staggered by the importance we attach to these "things". Especially me. I am the one who always says that "it's just stuff and we can always get more stuff.". Now, my heart is breaking over losses I just cannot understand. Things taken by people who actually know us, and know I would give them the shirt off my back if they just asked for it. Neighbors who lived in the same community with me for years have stolen my Christmas memories. Well, some of them. And they stole the ones I can never replace.........................

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