Sunday, November 30, 2014

O Tennebaum

We Jacksons do Christmas the right way around here. With lots of Yuletide pomp and Christmas-stance. Friday my mom, sister-in-law and I unpacked the Rubbermaids brimming with stockings, ceramic villages, faux greenery and my moms collections of snowmen and Santa Clauses'. We listened to Amy Grant sing Grown Up Christmas List and Nat King Cole's seranade of O Tennenbaum and lit Spruce scented candles. 

Saturday we gathered in Clan firm and drove to the Christ,as Tree Farm that once was my grandfathers. For 40 years he tended to saplings and fostered cheer through months of sweltering heat and infestations to grow ten acres of pine. We chatted with the new owners, kind as can be and I was just grateful as I chased my niece throguh the memory forest while my sisters little family searched. 

Once we found them just the right one, returning home, we congregated and opened the tins of ornaments that have graced our tree, some for 36 years. Now a flocked, pre-lit wannabe graces our living room, but the effect is much the same as if it were real. And I wanted to share our little tradition with you. 

You see my out-of-place Kung Fu Panda ornament. I would tell you of my sweet dad bringing me this home from his Hallmark job to cheekily foster my love of animated movies when I was in college. 

We may also note that Jacksons are kind but raucous people. And when decorating a tree, the tendency for the most sentimental ornaments to get broken is strong. My brothers baby ornament has survived the fray for 31 years with only a small case of flaking and a chipped top. 

We would all argue who gets to tell you all about the infamous Santa. My dad made this in this Kindergarten class 52 years ago. My mother patronizes our affection for him by insisting he be put on the back of the tree. We'll take what we can get for this little guy to live on. 

My dad would tell you about how for years this ornament was put on as a reminder of my brothers near-yet-far presence while in the army. Now he gets to place it on himself while holding his daughter. 

Someone would share how back in 1991, my parents purchasd this ornament to hold strong to our roots while we moved into Chicago Bears country. It did the job and they raised three very fine Chiefs fans. 

My mom would tell of how she had a lunch pail extremely similar to this growing up, so each year we pull out this ornament and she hooks it on to cherish the memory of childhood. 

And finally, when looking at our tree, you will see these bright bulbs littering the empty space between branches and ornaments and they are their own type of sentimentality. I would explain how my mother bought three boxes of these from Macy's the winter before her and my dad got married. They have met the most liberal demise over the years, but the remnant is still used to fill the gaps. 

This tree tells the story of our family, of births and distance and family jokes. You wouldn't see the raffia my mom insisted on tying to the branches for years, but we would probably express relief at the twine bows absence. But mostly, as I admire the decorum, I am just glad for this emblem that ties our family together. I love that it tells our stories. 

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