Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a Merry Sustainable Christmas

Every year since I was a child, I have picked a favorite ornament on the tree, an ornament that I would hang in a prominent place and look at several times over the season.  Often, it was a simple blue glass bulb of the kind that was sold for a dozen at 69 cents when my parents were first married and decorating their first tree; I would hang it on the bottom branch of the tree and lie under it, looking up at my reflection framed by all the Christmassy wonder. 

Sometimes, it was an ornament that I felt reflected the true meaning of the season.  I have a particularly lovely acrylic ornament portraying a manger scene that was given to me by one of my aunts when I was a child, and it was often this almost-overly-sweet portrayal of the first Christmas that drew pride of place.

Other years, favorites reflected interest and whimsy.  I sometimes pick an ornament from the series issued by my alma mater, choosing a sparkly brass portrayal of a favorite dorm or academic building, touching the memories of my years at Miami University every time I spin the ornament in the lights.  Or, I love to look at the series of ballroom dance ornaments that my parents are giving Mr. FC&G and I, thinking about how our dancing is such a tremendous metaphor for our marriage;  a true partnership, where both people have important jobs to do, neither tries to take the role of the other, and both contribute to making something beautiful.

And, of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a chuckle at the set of four ornaments from my mother-in-law.  These ornaments depict a toy train apparently constructed from wood and "live" farm animals.  The look on the cow's face -- clearly, "what the heck just happened here?" -- makes me laugh every time.

This year, though, I keep going back to the ornament above.  My Grandma Rosemary, my father's mother, gave me this ornament celebrating the 1976 Bicentennial in 1975, when all of the items commemorating the country's 200th birthday started becoming available.  She passed away in 1976, so this is really the last meaningful gift I remember her giving me.  It captures such a specific moment in time -- the nearly-unbearable excitement of Christmas and a Bicentennial (whatever that was) all rolled into one package of childish glee, the wonder of having an ornament meant just for me, the nooks and contours of the house that Rosemary and her father, my great-grandfather Pop, used to live in.  The poignancy of a moment before I knew that there was such as thing as losing a loved one. 

All of these wonderful memories, like small truffles constructed not of sugar but of emotion, are available to me every time I look at my tree.  In many ways, this is to me the most sustainable practice of all.  Instead of insisting on an all-new display with shiny ornaments that perfectly match the decor, I have little time capsules of all the best moments of my life, available for my enjoyment.  I wouldn't trade this for all the newness and trendiness in the world. 

Wishing you and yours a holiday season filled with memories, the most renewable resource of all.

Jennifer and Mr. FC&G
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  1. I love this post and love the fact that memories are on your tree, especially the one you picked this year from your Grandmoter, Rosemary.
    Brings back memories for me and your Dad also.

    Merry Christmas Jen!

  2. Fairy from Organised CastleDecember 23, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    Thank you for sharing the lovely memories associated with your tree and the decorations. May you and your family have a memorable Christmas with peace and joy for 2012.

    Best wishes xxx