If your house were on fire and you could only grab one thing, what would you save?
Thinking about this disaster scenario is not a complete waste of time, so don’t scoff. Our former next-door neighbors’ house was struck by lightning in the middle of the night, and they had about 90 seconds to get out. (Answer: they scooped up their pets, and that was about it.)
Barring all living creatures, the thing I’d most likely save–okay, let’s agree to exclude cell phone and laptop…oh, and purse with wallet and glasses…and I probably shouldn’t forget my thyroid medication…wait: am I dressed?–is a beloved family Christmas decoration.
To be specific, the 30-plus ornaments that form our “anniversary tree.”
Our December Wedding
Flashback to ’83: my boyfriend and I got engaged on a sultry August evening, mere months before graduating in December. Not that it’s a contest, but I was finishing my undergraduate degree a semester early, having crammed as many classes into summer school as possible, while my honey was leaving a semester late due to changing majors and work. With such a short engagement, planning kicked into high gear. The first date I could snare at Austin’s Covenant Presbyterian Church was December 17.
My dress was white, the flowers red poinsettias, the greenery fir.
Our first holiday season together was spent basking in Jamaican honeymoon surf and sand. We flew home, me in sundress and cornrows (remember, it was the ‘80s) and him in shorts, having failed to dress appropriately for the freakishly cold Texas weather. After all, we were 22 years old.
As a parent of grown children now, I’m shaking my head in wonder.
Regifting Begats a Holiday Tradition
Because our anniversary falls so close to Christmas, friends and family have often given us gifts of holiday ornaments. My in laws were first, with several beautiful silver Christofle ornaments. And then my mom asked, “Your dad got these ornaments as a thank you gift. They’re not really ‘me.’ Would you like them?”
“These ornaments” were Baccarat crystal, each etched with the year issued and hung by a scarlet ribbon. Every season’s simple design was different: angels, doves, snowmen, bells, presents, stars.
They were breathtakingly, stunningly gorgeous. Of course I wanted them.
For years, my dad received one of these holiday Baccarat keepsakes, which my mom thoughtfully passed along to me. When Dad left that position, my fancy ornament pipeline dried up. But I was hooked; by then, it was no longer truly the holidays without a new bit of Baccarat sparkle. My hubby, ever a smart man, realized he’d hit the jackpot with the perfect anniversary present, approved for all perpetuity.
Not only smart, the man’s a true romantic. Realizing there were gaps, my husband set out on a secret mission to locate the missing ornaments from our chronology as a special 30th anniversary gift. He succeeded. Ornaments from 1983 to the present now hang as sparkling representation of all our beautiful years together.
Our anniversary tree is the first thing I put up every holiday season and the last thing I pack away in the new year.
So you understand why I’d do my damnedest to lug that big box out of a burning building.