by Kevin Burton
By one measure it has been Christmas season for weeks now, but by another it hasn’t started yet.
I used to say it isn’t Christmas season until I have broken one of the glass Christmas tree ornaments.
At least twice before we were married, I came to Jeannette’s house to help decorate her tree. On each occasion I broke one of the round ornaments, the kind that come 12 or 15 to a box and come in different colors.
Our relationship survived my clumsiness. And we have never lacked for ornaments, at her place, my old apartment, and now at our shared place.
I like those round colorful ornaments, but they don’t say anything. They look nice and fill in the empty spaces on the tree. More meaningful are the ornaments from our separate past and our shared time together to the present. These are the ones that make our tree a beloved family history book each winter.
We have some memories for sure, but there are some blank spots. One ornament says “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Kevin and Jeanette,” misspelling her name with only one N. Neither of us can remember who gave it to us or when we got it!
Fortunately many of the ornaments are memory proof. There is a “coach” ornament Jeannette got for me when I started coaching beep baseball. The bottom of the ornament is marked “love J 2008.”
We have several baseball-themed ornaments because I used to be completely obsessed with baseball. I was easy to shop for back then, virtually anything baseball was good.
One ornament says “Merry Christmas from Hazlehurst, GA” which is where my mother used to live. Until we got that ornament I had spelled the town name wrong, with an EL instead of LE in the middle.
One ornament spells out “Kindergarten, Willow.” Willow is our granddaughter and I wonder how she will feel in a few days when she sees this ornament since she’s a much bigger girl now, a worldly-wise fourth grader. I mean for goodness’ sake her stepsister is the kindergartner, not her.
There is an ornament I made from my cat Mex’s tags – a red one, a blue one and a green one – after she died, at age 19 in 2019. She was one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
We have an ornament with different colored banners that reads “Jesus our King, Jesus our Lord and Jesus our Savior.”
We have enough ornaments for three trees, so we don’t use the same ones every year.
One of our ornaments shows a picture of Jeannette’s son Charlie when he was in second grade. He was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt. The picture is in a frame or sorts made out of popsicle sticks. There are maybe 17 scrabble tiles glued to the frame. The letters don’t spell anything except the ones across the top spell out his initials, “CEW.”
It’s a very cool family memory. We have enough ornaments that I have never seen this Ninja Turtle Scrabble one before. Jeannette thinks I have seen it but just didn’t pay close attention to it before.
That could be, but it’s hard to imagine those scrabble tile escaping my attention.
We have a Charlie ornament, gold letters on red paper, that he drew and laminated in second grade.
As a dating/married couple we have had a tradition that we’ve unfortunately gotten away from, of buying a new ornament each year to create more memories. We have two six-pointed and one eight-pointed star ornaments that we bought together.
Maybe the coolest of our joint purchases is shaped like a pumpkin but it’s sparkly gold silver and off white.
We looked for but didn’t find any cool ornaments from our Nebraska/South Dakota vacation this fall. We do have some from previous trips to Colorado.
We have several ornaments made by my sister Pat, who is good at creating crafts with her hands. We have a star and some crosses that she made.
At the top of our tree each year is one of those Taco Bell chihuahua toys, the one wearing a santa hat that says “Feliz Navidad amigos” when you squeeze its stomach.
We thought that was hilarious for the first few years. When the joke wore off, we went searching for something more appropriate to top the tree. But the K&J Christmas tree doesn’t look right without that dog.
So Feliz Navidad amigos! May you unwrap blessings from God along with your trinkets this year.