Thursday, January 1, 2009


I dismantled the Christmas tree today. Holiday deadlines have come and gone and it’s now that I get to savor each ornament. I hunt through the branches, pulling off and tucking away gifts from students: Jill’s shiny red apple with its mischievous green worm. Mike’s three-inch Santa that originally accompanied hand dipped truffles. (Is it merely my imagination that catches that whiff of chocolate?) Katie’s three giddy moose, copper limbs akimbo, silly grins antithetical to her now-serious job as an attorney. The thank you letter from Karen’s parents brings back the many after-school hours I watched in awe as this amazing senior helped her staff meet another school newspaper deadline.And then there are the family mementos. Photographs of parents long passed away. A small black and white Kodak of my brother and me in a rowboat, our gangly cane fishing poles balanced on the gunnel. I hold the now-curling photo in my hand and smile at a memory of how we snorted with laughter as we made up vaguely naughty names for Roman emperors: Fartifus Doopius Poopius, Snortius Boogerus...til our dad intoned one more time, “You’ll scare the fish away with that noise....” Off we went once more, each vying for the self-nominated award of best description of a sun fish with ears.
But nothing pulls quite so hard at my past as the oval box in which my mom kept her face powder. This is my favorite part of my tree dismantling tradition, for when I sniff inside that little cardboard container, it’s suddenly 1958 and I’m sitting cross-legged on her bed, watching her at her vanity as she gets ready to go out to a New Year's Eve dinner with my dad. Cold cream applied, then tissued off. Black pencil stroked on brows. A bit of rouge, then that wonderful powder. She massages red lipstick on her little finger and carefully transfers the color to her lips. A quick blot on a tissue and she’s almost ready, but not until the best part of this ritual -- a
quick touch of the powder puff on my nose. Ah, the glamour of the 1950’s through the eyes of a seven year old, returned to me briefly on the first day of 2009, all thanks to a now-empty powder box on my Christmas tree.
The tree is down, the floor is vacuumed and the boxes are stored in the basement. And the memories that the ornaments evoked have once again made all this work worthwhile.

1 comment:

mindy said...

Judy-when did you do this-I love it-there is something nostalgic -well-almost as if I am viewing it through an amber lens of long is really grand-hey the kids go back tomorrow thank the lord!!!!