I don’t have one of those Christmas trees where all the decorations are color coordinated and matching. I have a living tree that I haul in the week before, and drape with a lot of old decorations. Including one very ugly angel made out of pink pipe cleaners and pink netting with this really weird gold curly hair. For me, though, decorating the tree is one of the biggest parts of the solstice. Because of course, each decoration has a story.
The last time I decorated the tree I realized that when I am gone, the stories will be, too. My son might some day pull out that angel and think his mother was insane for keeping it. I want him to know its story, how I made it in kindergarten and thought it so beautiful that I pitched a red-headed hissy fit if it wasn’t the first thing on the tree. Every year. So I started writing the story for each decoration, so that some day my son will know why I get teary when hanging things like a small elderly porcelain Santa that used to be part of a string of lights belonging to my grandmother. Until the string caught on fire one Christmas Eve.
Today I worked on baking, in order to make plates of goodies for friends. One of the things I made is a very heavy, dark, winter cake, full of spices, nuts, and raisins. Not a fruit cake. Auntie (the grandmother who owned the string of lights) always baked it, and on Christmas Eve the house would smell of allspice and cloves as it came out of the oven.
But today I was alone.
And so I told the story of the cake, of the memories associated with it, to our two dogs.
And they listened attentively, salivating.