54: Memory Lane

54: Memory Lane

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

Memory Lane

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.

~Alexander Smith

My husband and I had decided we wanted to do something special to mark our first Christmas together. We went to one of the fancy department stores and bought an expensive glass ornament. It was beautiful — painted gold and covered in sparkles, with what looked like a burst of golden fireworks hanging in its hollow center.

The next year, we bought a delicate glass ball with an angel suspended in the center. The following Christmas we found a red velvet birdhouse with a small teddy bear looking out the door. He held a wrapped gift in his hand, and we knew our two-month-old daughter would love it when she was older.

Our annual ornament tradition continued, and with each addition came a story. The unfortunate, gangly, ten-inch tall snowman made of Styrofoam balls covered in yarn was bought the year we waited until the last minute and found the store shelves picked bare. Our daughter, who had been fussing in her stroller while we searched, smiled when she saw the snowman, and after that we went through a period when our kids seemed to pick our ornaments.

That’s how we ended up with the brilliant red glass mouse topped with wild yellow hair, and the corn husk country mouse, complete with cowboy hat and guitar, whose head repeatedly fell off.

As time passed, we chose ornaments to remind us of a major event from that year. The clear globe filled with sand and tiny shells was from the summer we went to the Outer Banks for a family reunion; the decorated miniature rolling pin commemorated the year we tore the house apart and moved the kitchen; and the bear swathed in scarves, hat, and snow pants was from the year we moved from the wintry North to warm Florida.

There are special ornaments for the years our son and daughter were married, and there are ornaments for the years each of our four grandchildren were born.

Each year, when I hang the ornaments among the lights, I take a trip down Memory Lane.

Next year, we will have been married fifty years, but there will be only forty-nine ornaments to unpack. It has always been that way — one ornament fewer than the number of years of married life. That’s because we spent that first Christmas nearly 9,000 miles apart — he in a canvas, wood-floored tent in Vietnam, and I in a room rented from an elderly woman.

For our fiftieth anniversary, we’ll do what we weren’t able to do that first Christmas of our marriage: search together for the most important ornament of all — one that represents the beginning of our lives together.

~Michele Ivy Davis

More stories from our partners