This ornament -- pretty but not particularly remarkable -- is one of a set that my parents bought for their very first Christmas tree.
At the time, in the early 50's, they were living in a trailer next to my grandparents' farmhouse, which would later become their home. My mother reports that those first trees tended to be of the Charlie Brown style, and small enough to fit in the little Airstream.
My parents did not have an Ozzie-and-Harriet relationship, and Christmas was not always a particularly happy time at our house. But the day the Christmas tree went up was always a good day. My father usually went to the tree farm himself and cut the tree; he was very particular about getting one as near to perfect in symmetry as possible, and also obsessive about stringing the lights in just the right way. Once that was done it was my mother's turn to put on the ornaments. (Until I was high-school age my only contribution to this endeavor was as an ornament unwrapper and go-fer.) My dad -- perhaps thinking back to his own childhood Christmas Eves when my grandmother would literally chase the kids outside, lock the doors and pull down the shades until the tree was decorated and the candles lit -- would always find something to do outside while my mom took her turn with the tree adornment. Then he'd come inside, gaze upon the finished display, and murmur, "Not bad."
Sometimes when I'm feeling a little moony and sentimental I wish I had a Sweet Baboo with whom to engage in domestic rituals like this. But...my mother has really enjoyed our Christmas tree this year, so it was worth doing, even if this isn't exactly the Kodak moment I had in my head a decade ago when I'd imagine my future. And even if I lived all by myself I'd still decorate a Christmas tree. And it would be...not bad. Not bad at all.
A parental ornament