Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Ornament. Or the Year My Teenager Became Human Again

Some of you know that my youngest son died as a baby a long time ago.  One of my holiday traditions has been to buy a certain angel ornament every year for our Christmas tree in his memory.  It's done by Mary Hamilton, sold by Hallmark and is part of a collector series - this year is #24.  He's been dead for 28 years, but her ornaments didn't start till 1987.  The first year I found a cradle and painted the year and his name on it.  There were 3 years with a different kind of angel on clouds, then the Mary's Angels started.

Every year, I worried and wondered - is this the year she quits designing this special little ornament and then what will I do?  But each year, she puts out another one, and I breathe a sigh of relief.  Not only are they sidnificant in the "angel" memorial sense, but over the years, many of them have represented something important that happened that year.

 Like the year Jeremy learned to read.

Or the year I bought a flower shop.

And the year he got Duke.  (I should re-paint that puppy black!)

Another year, the angel was holding a set of bells.  I chose to think of them as wedding bells cause I had remarried that year.

These ornaments are VERY important and special to me.

One year, however... I forgot.  I usually bought it the minute the Hallmark display comes out in October.  I'm always afraid they'll sell out, and some years they are very hard to find.  I completely forgot about the ornament that year, but it was the year of the Great Depression, for reasons I won't go into.  It was the 15th year of the angel ornaments, so Jeremy was ... 16 or 17.  

Many of you have met my son, Jeremy.  He wasn't always the nice young man he is today.  At one time, he was a teenager who thought his mother was an idiot.  He also thought his arms would break off if he had to wash a dish to the sink or carry a basket of laundry.

That 15th year after Jacob died, about 2 weeks before Christmas, Jeremy wanted to give me his Christmas present early.  Hmmm, weird.  I didn't want it, I wanted it kept under the tree till Christmas morning, but he insisted.  (I never could used to him having 20 presents under the tree and me only one or two!)  Considering his teenage attitude of late, frankly, it made me a little nervous.  I half expected it to be a tarantula in the cute little box he gave me.

Jeremy doesn't remember his baby brother.  He was only 2 1/2 years old when Jacob died.  He always knew that the angel ornament meant "remembering Jacob", but I never really knew if he understood just how important it was to me.  And certainly, his charming teenage personality was not that of a sweet, understanding, sensitive type of kid.  Of late.

I opened the give wrapped box which was touching in itself - he had taken the time to wrap it, making the effort to find the gift wrap even.

It was the baby angel ornament for that year!

And note the ornament that year... the PRESENT!

I immediately burst into tears, SHOCKED for 2 reasons.  One, that I had actually FORGOTTEN to buy it  myself, how completely "out of it" I was, and two, his thoughtfulness, his remembering it on his own, his understanding the significance, the importance of it, and noticing that there was something wrong with me that I hadn't bought it myself yet.

It remains a tear-jerker memory to this day.  But a good one.  

These are the only Christmas items I brought with me to San Francisco.  The rest of my Christmas stuff is still in Idaho in a storage unit.  I've always kept these out, stored in a closet, so they were here.  I wish I had Jeremy's yearly ornaments with me to put on my little tree.  But I did start a new tradition... an ornament for me!  I haven't thought of what Jeremy's will be yet, but this is mine...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all... a good night!


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