They came and brought me up from the basement yesterday. With no kids in the house and no grandkids coming to visit, I wondered if this would be the year they would keep me packed up next to the trunk of old letters and messaged T-shirts they couldn’t quite throw away. (The letters I understand, but old T-shirts?) But I heard the footsteps and was lifted up and out, unpacked from the big box where I lay nested in my small little box that has been my home for 70 years or so. I still keep company with my old friends in the neighboring slots, but we all miss the Silent Night ornament that the wife accidentally broke last year, along with a little piece of the husband’s heart. We all knew he slightly favored Silent Night, always hanging her first on the tree and truth be told, that was fine with us. But now we wondered who would be lifted out first this year.
It was me! Maybe because I’m also red and have my own little engraved message. Up I went on the branch of the live Norfolk pine that lives all year in its pot in the light-well. Truth be told, I miss a bit the smell of the cut noble firs, but I understand that the planet is more fragile than ever and the cutting and tossing is not a happy thing anymore.
Anyway, here I am again, surrounded by the $.75 little ornaments that this couple bought at Cost Plus back at the start of their marriage. They just found out that Cost Plus recently closed and felt sadness at that, the way humans do. But they’ll get over it, as humans do. Just think of all the changes that little boy I once knew in New Jersey has gone through in the almost seven decades I’ve known him! He has a grandson now who looks a little like he used to, though with darker skin and who knows? If the people are careful and the planet heals and time is generous, maybe that five-year-old boy will hold me in his hand someday remembering all that have held me before. And then put me up on his tree, with a loving wife (or husband) and adorable baby with them.
We had a moment together, that first-little-boy-now-grandfather, last night. After placing me oh-so-carefully on the branch, with Frank Sinatra crooning a carol on the old CD player and the tree lights spreading their beauty out into the darkening room of a winter’s night, he stopped and stood still. We took a breath together and in the exhale, out came his New Jersey boyhood, his young adult California self, his new fatherhood sharing the magic with two tiny tots with their eyes all aglow. All mixed and flowing together right up to this present moment, full cycle to his baby-bald head, his shrinking body, his lined face, but still with an undiminished capacity for a happy glow. All of that held together in my so-fragile glass sphere that miraculously has lived through year after year in the same box I came in.
And that engraved message written in my shiny red glass? The perfect ending to my little story: