What are traditions that you and your family enjoy? Is there a particular food that reminds you of someone special? Perhaps it is a scent that takes you back to earlier times…an ornament from a former student that brings a smile to your lips…a song that carries the voice of a friend…hoarded Christmas cards from a great-grandmother’s cherished keepsakes. Each of these plays a part in my celebration of Christmas.
My Memory Tree provides somewhat of a sanctuary for dealing with loneliness amplified by living away from my family, away from many of my friends, and the familiarity small towns bring. I have always been a sentimental person, holding onto small tokens as if the very memory of the whole event lies hidden within their shells. The unwrapping of the memories is an emotional time and I gather a big box of tissues along with the ever growing box that holds these snippets of the past. As I slowly began the process, I take a sip of freshly made wassail from a pass-me-down recipe and wonder to myself, what memories will come flooding back this year. They are not always the same. Many are added with new experiences, new stories, new lives joining mine in some special way.
This year, the first ornament that greets me is one that, unlike many of the others, is not many years old. It is an ornament that I bought for myself. Its place on my tree is to remind me of a very special friend that has taken a different route in life. A friend who I remember sitting-around my round-table (a name for an old piece of furniture that could tell many a story of its own – but, alas, it is no more) drinking sweet tea and sharing laughs, sometimes tears. This friend, who now bears the nickname “Joy” because that is the emotion that is evoked upon hearing from them, has found the way through my heart. A friend so special that is no longer merely buried within my heart is close enough. Years may pass before we speak, even more before we see each other but that moment we do, all the magic springs forth yet again. The memories today won’t take a place beneath today’s reality. Those memories will hang forefront until I can once again hear from my “Joy” and we share anew. A tear makes its way from the corner of my eye as I wonder where “Joy” is right this minute and if, in some world, we are destined to sit-around once again.
Tomorrow is for more ornaments, more memories. Today “Joy” takes the place of honor by standing alone atop the Memory Tree.