It started in our first real Christmas together as a couple. (In the previous year, our relationship was only a few months old, and we hadn't ventured forth into the ultimate and life altering realization that we would become, totally, each other's family; and so we spent our respective holidays with our respective families of origin, in different countries and with one huge phone bill at the end). That second year, I had a guest position teaching in the US, and a perk of that role was accommodation in a beautiful - and huge - Arts and Crafts style home in a rather more wealthy suburb of the city than anything my upbringing had ever exposed me to. Despite all the luxuries integral to the building, such as a custom-made little bar and buffet area adjacent to the dining room and open brick fireplace, the university had furnished the house for the barest of our needs, and thus the place had a vacant, slightly forlorn, weirdly grandiose elegance about it. We moved in, newly man and wife, at the end of November, and thus Christmas decorating was a means for us not only to celebrate that first season together, but to fill some of that echoing vastness. In that house, the tree stayed up until sometime in February. And somehow, we just continued from there...
It also has something to do, I suppose, with the fact that we observe the tradition typical in Austria, which is to erect and decorate the tree on Christmas eve. I'm a big fan of the holiday season in all its kitschyness, baking of garish desserts, playing of music that would never get a passing glance on our otherwise more fashionable playlist, and generally decking halls to the hilt. So the wait 'til the 24th, when all around us trees are going up from late November onwards, is a test of my patience. I like to get the maximum of enjoyment from our tree for as long as possible after that.
S has had a strong connection to, and presence on our tree almost from the beginning. My mom has established a tradition, in the last two holidays, of gifting us a special ornament for him, and these always take pride of place.This year's ornament is a sweet little giraffe that we all three picked out together; we all felt sure it would be the sort of thing S, with his chubby two year old's hands, would have loved. It was purchased at St Paul's Cathedral, where my mother joined us for a particularly poignant service to remember lost babies, organised by this wonderful organisation. It was a very special afternoon for us. Here's a look at the ornament gracing the tree.
|A special memory|