It is tradition to pass on the Christmas decorations of one's lifetime to children and grand children. Here is Judith Harris's story of bittersweet memories.
Buried in the Christmas and New Year’s emails came this following story by Judith Harris with the question if we would be interested in publishing it. After reading it, it rang a bell on so many levels that I have to share it with you as it deals with gracefully accepting the changes of time. When we moved to Amelia Island now almost 5 years ago, we had at least 10 storage containers filled with Christmas items collected over the years, each with special memories. Last year, when our last one got married and moved out, my wife divided all the memorabilia among the kids and at least 8 storage containers left the garage. The memories were bittersweet. Here is Judith’s story which undoubtedly will find recognition with many people on our island.
The Christmas Blue Bell
By: Judith Harris
No, my Christmas Blue Bell is not a new species of flowering plant that blooms here on Amelia Island. It is a musical bell covered in blue velvet that has been in my possession since 1967. I purchased it while visiting St. Thomas when I was a young woman. Like me, the bell is now showing its age. The gold-braided trim has fallen away, and the lush blue velvet has faded to a pale fabric with an occasional tear, sag and wrinkle. The music box within must have rusted solid because the bell no longer plays its charming tune, the title of which I have long ago forgotten.
Each Christmas as I gently unwrap this bit of memorabilia and set it out on the coffee table, I reminisce about all the Christmases the bell and I have shared with friends, family, and most especially; the children and grandchildren who delighted in it when it was still able to sing out it’s song, or played with it when it had become just a silent novelty.
We moved here to this Paradise Island 7 years ago and each Christmas I give away a few of my treasures to our children. As time passes, I notice that I am decorating less and less. I don’t know if it’s because there are not enough hours in a day for me to accomplish all the things I wish to do, or if it’s because I now accomplish things at a slower pace. Maybe it’s a little bit of each. This year I parted with my precious Blue Christmas Bell.
Darian, our oldest grandson, was thrilled to receive it. He’s the only one of our grandsons who actually enjoyed the music box before it rusted itself solid. In my mind’s eye, I can still see him toddling around the house with the bell held close to his little ear. There was a happy twinkle in his eye and a sweet broad smile on his cherub lips. He never tired of winding and listening to the music. His other favorite thing to do was to take Baby Jesus out of his manger and hide him in a decorative brass object that with a bit of imagination could have passed as a replica of Aladdin’s Lamp.
Last year we gifted “Aladdin’s Magic Lamp” to Darian. Baby Jesus went to our dear second born grandson William. It was also one of his favorites. The Jesus Baby was purchased in Jerusalem, was hand carved from Olive Tree wood, was used by William for teething and is now missing a left foot. William’s little brother Michael is our darling third born grandson and has not yet picked his treasures. I am sure at some point he will decide which items are his favorites. The same is true for our littlest angel grandson Alex, who is last but certainly not least. Grandpa and I have received many blessing in this life, but none can compare to our most precious grandsons that our daughters have brought into our lives.
Christmas is now over and I am sitting here keeping warm in my cozy kitchen, watching the cold wind pummeling my Queen Palm, and the sad frost bitten branches of my drooping Hibiscus as they sway to and fro. I guess Jack Frost decided he wanted to come south to help us ring in the New Year. We heard that there were snow flurries in Jacksonville. Hopefully the snow will find it’s way to us this evening. Wouldn’t it be magical to see snow flurries dancing in the moonlit sky over the ocean?
Of course, Christmas could have been more perfect if our dear children had been with us, but that was not meant to be. They live in Maryland and we no longer want them making the trip at this time of year. We can’t travel to be with them because my health prevents me from exposing myself to the cold northern air. [I have been remaining in-doors during these unseasonably cold Amelia Island days.]
Skype to the Holiday Rescue
However, thanks to modern technology, we were able to share Christmas with our family by visiting on the computer with SKYPE. Heaven should bless the folks who created SKYPE, it is a wondrous invention. It’s the next best thing to actually being together in person and we all enjoy it immensely. Grandpa and I were able to share in all the family fun without setting a foot out of our house. Santa was good to everyone, including us, and we all had a great time together.
I like taking a few minutes every year to jot down a few after Christmas thoughts. Sometimes I light a candle and sip tea. Sometimes I dim the lights and turn on all the Christmas trees around the room and pour a glass of wine. This time I am bundled warm in my kitchen, drinking hot coffee as I watch the cold west wind torturing my poor palm trees. It’s a pleasant habit, reminiscing about all the blessings of the Holiday and memories of past pleasures.
Yes, for sure I am an old fashioned sentimentalist, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.