Don’t quote me, but I think the idea to marry off our family Christmas tree ornaments came to me the year after I bought the stuffed, Jamaica market-woman ornament. That season after Epiphany, when all the college-aged have gone back, and the other young adults, returned to their various places of transitioning, to life away from…well…home, can bring out strange survival skills.
So, our Afro-centric Santa, in his glorious silver garb, lined with white faux fur and carrying a French horn, though quite advanced in years, was one year rather abruptly deemed a worthy suitor and exchanged nuptials with the humble but dignified Miss Jamaica, proceedings officiated by the illustrious door-hanger snowman, Snow-jangles. Mr. Snow-Jangles, by the way, (bells for hands and feet) leads the opening Christmas parade around the house each year, as soon as Thanksgiving & my son’s December birthday celebrations have wrapped up. This usually launches the Advent observances in earnest. He is also the last to leave the scene each year, when Christmas is finally packed away, hopefully before Valentine care-packages are hastily mailed.
That first years’ union was soon followed by the announcement of the one between the lovely light-bulb ornament couple, Mr. & Mrs. Campbell. They came to our Christmas celebration already a unit. Beautifully made from white-painted, recycled, incandescent light bulbs, their snow-woman and snow-man details were artfully added in black. This basic design was personalized by the addition of a pinafore, in patterned Christmas-green fabric and a painted-on beret for Mrs. Campbell. A swatch of burgundy gingham draped around Mr. Campbell, formed a scarf for his bulbous neck and a painted beanie topped his portly form. I smile each year I pull them out together, as I think about the retired male nursing professor and his lovely devoted wife, also a retired nurse, who made them. The humor, resourcefulness and goodwill, reflected in those ornaments, honestly represent a couple, who over the course of at least six years, served freely in our community — he, as biology tutor and she, as older, wiser woman, modeling motherhood and the best of old-school, American neighborliness and charity.
The year following the Claus’ union saw the marriage of Mr. Snow-Jangles and the beautiful, though austere, Miss Snow-Angel, who came to adorn the top of our bigger tree the year we had to up-size due to the growing number of ornaments. Our Christmas ornaments go all the way back to my 24-year-old’s clothes peg angel, who sported nothing but a bit of white tissue paper for his robe and marker drawn eyes and mouth, with a bit of orange yarn glued on for hair. Such treasures, issued from the two-year-olds’ nursery, became indispensable even after I started the later tradition of buying a nativity themed ornament for each child each year. The year after the Jangles’ marriage, their first and only child, Jangle-Junior, named by my third-born, came to complete that family unit.
That same year, the younger generation of ornaments got into the marital fray as, on Epiphany, a dark and dashing young Magi ornament, complete with box of gold in hand, purportedly asked for my daughter Charis’ dancing angel doll’s hand in marriage. His fine features seemed to be a perfect match for hers, and her perfectly pirouetting form fit snugly into Balthasar’s outspread, gift-bearing arms. But that year, there was some hesitation to the sanctioning of that union, as the brothers felt distrustful of Balthasar’s beady eyes, thinking perhaps that he seemed a bit too worldly-wise for the innocent maiden, Dancing Angel. It was decided to give them a year’s hiatus – for her to mature some and for him to prove his honor. So, this year, a week past Epiphany, Balthasar and the Dancing Angel tied the marital knot, and were last seen adoring the Christ child together in the light of the nativity, just before it was put away for another year.
News has it that my eldest son’s clothes peg angel, who had previously claimed that he did not want to get hung up on old formalities, is planning to get things lined up for a clean start in the new year, with intentions to pop the question on Christmas Eve to my daughter’s shy, dark-haired, clothes peg. She is obviously already quite happy, evidenced by her permanent marker smile complete with cheeks. Courtship is expected to span the entire church liturgical calendar. I can hardly wait!
Packing away family Christmas tree ornaments is such bitter-sweet work…but somebody’s got to do it. Sniff!!