The Vaulted Files is a series of writings I am finding as I weed through years of unpublished posts stored on my computer. This one was originally written in January 2011.
I set out yesterday morning with one goal in mind: it was time to put away the Christmas decorations. Sadly, the joyous season is over, but we have the blessing of preparing for a new year, new weather, and new adventures in life.
It took most of the day, but the whole family was instrumental in packing away the décor and putting the house back into its former state. The last remaining task left to complete yesterday evening was the packing and storing of all my china ornaments which had hung this season on a tall gold-metal rotating tree loaned to me by my mom. As I disassembled it and packed away my most prized ornaments, Victoria appeared beside me ready to help.
Since many of the ornaments are in fact hers, I said she could help pack them away, but they were all very special and had to be placed back into their original boxes in very particular fashion. Victoria is a pro at packing stuff away, and with a small squeal of delight she began plucking ornaments. We would talk about each one, or make some comment about a particular set of ornaments as we worked.
When all the ornaments were placed back into their respective boxes, Vic began asking about the ornaments that didn’t come out this year. There are very few ornaments in my “special” box that I do not display, but there is one particular ornament that I have not removed from its original gift bag since I received it in 2003. Victoria spied the ornament inside the bag and anxiously exclaimed, “Mommy! Mommy! There’s a pretty blue one in here! You didn’t take it out!! Can I see it????”
I drew a deep breath and reached into the bag, feeling the familiar Limoges ornament that had only been opened one other time. “This one is from Aunt Maxine, Mimi’s sister,” I explained. And then I simply couldn’t say anything more.
There is something so stirring about this ornament that it brings me to tears just thinking about it. Dominic’s Aunt Maxine passed away during the first week of December in 2003. On Christmas Eve of that year, my Mother-in-Law handed me a small gift bag, the same one Victoria excitedly peered into last night. As I reached into the bag and unlocked the ornament on Christmas Eve 2003, there was a tiny circle of paper inside that read “With Love from Aunt Maxine. December 2003.” Maxine’s daughter, Maggie, had been responsible for making sure all of Maxine’s gifts got delivered to their intended recipients that year. I cried the night I received it, and I cried again last night.
I neglected to properly conclude the post back in early 2011, but I recall Victoria insisting that the ornament needed to be displayed. And she’s right. Her statement reminded me of my maternal grandmother’s conviction that even our nicest things were to be used and enjoyed regularly, not kept hidden away in boxes. Since that conversation, the ornament given to me from Aunt Maxine hangs proudly on the Christmas tree with my other treasured keepsakes. The small paper circle remains inside reminding me of the love Aunt Maxine had for her family.