My Favorite, Noel.

I decorate for Christmas.  

Some years, not a single soul sees it. Some years, maybe one or two or three tops.

But, that’s because I travel, and it really doesn’t matter. I do it for me.

I refrained for many years. I could only see painful reminders. I suppose if there was such a thing, I’d say my grief has matured.

One year, I decided I’d at least try. I went through the box and struggled through each memory. Then, I went to World Market and Target and Meijer and struggled through buying new non-traditional décor in fuschia pink and winter blue and brilliant 80’s lime-ish green.

I couldn’t bring myself to put up the unique partial tree that Jeff and I had marveled over. Imagine a fake three-foot fir in a wicker basket – neatly sliced in verticle half to allow for wall hanging.

We used it in the townhouse, much to Miss Fred’s annoyance. She’d sit near the wall and balefully mewl. I suspect she was either trying to convince the tree to come down and play or she believed her caterwauling would spur us into action and bring all the shiny things down to her level.

It seems every year, I’ve managed to find the baby-steps, bits and pieces strength to add another sentimental piece. At least that’s what my lighted, miniature, fake burlap sack ensconced pine tree is telling me.

These are a few of my favorite things:

The purple and gold swirl paint bulb Jeff made.

The beaded snowman pin that Jeff also made

A tiny box with a big message from my mother-in-law, Sally

The tree topper is a handmade ornament from Nannee Vincze

The paper folded pinecone is a purchase I made at a craft show from a couple who reminded me so much of us.

The glass chili pepper is part of a set of six I bought for Jeff the Christmas after our store opened.

The Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh were a beautifully authentic biblical present to myself, and to others one year.

The Hershey kiss angel, by my best guesstimate, is somewhere between 20-25 years old – the result of a crafting episode with my sister-in-law.

The illuminated pine bottle was a gift this year from a friend who likes to call me ‘sis’.

The miniature Hannukah lamp was a gift from my mother that year we took her to Bronner’s. That is a story unto itself.

The nativity was my first, acquired the same year I purchased my condo.

The tatted cross is a gift that is a story unto itself, as well. A heritage heirloom I was astonished and honored to receive from a family that wasn’t mine to start with, but now completely is.

The Christmas Loon comes from the same family. No one has ever able to explain why, and the only thing I’ve found on the internet is a reference to the Loon being the state bird of Minnesota.

And I have no idea where the super shiny sparkly pine cone came from or how it landed in my Christmas storage tote, but… I like it.

All of this sits on the top of my living room hutch. There’s a lot of love crammed onto the four-foot-long top, which is conveniently completely Blu proof. He’s got jumping issues.

Happy Christmas from me. Repeating an adored adopted phrase, I’m the one who wants you to know – God loves you, and so do I. Noel.

Picture for the Week: 2019 12 24 Merry Christmas Noel jakorte

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman

 

Tree First

After that news arrived, I began calling friends to see if someone could take me to the hospital. Jeff told me not to go to the hospital but go straight to Nannee’s because she was going to need me there. So, that’s what I did.

Shortly after I arrived at the house on Union Street, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a clergyman on the doorstep, and invited him in, offering him a seat on the couch. I was about to step away to give them privacy, when he turned to me and said, “You look familiar…” “Oh, no.” Nannee shook her head. “You wouldn’t know Jodi… she’s Jewish.”

It was then quite obvious where he knew me from, as he was the pastor who declined to marry Jeff and I.

Many hours had gone by when the decision to remove Sally from life support was made. The hospital was kind and let us wait for one of Jeff’s step-brothers to return to Michigan, so all her kids could all be together in one place. To say goodbye.

I don’t remember Christmas that year. We must have gathered at Nannee’s.

I do remember the next Christmas. We’d lucked-out at Meijer, finding an artificial tree in the markdown/discontinued section and having a $20 off coupon we could use, too. We bought indoor and outdoor lights, garland and a few bulbs to supplement our Bronner’s collection.

Jeff was sitting on the floor of our new home in Adrian, piecing together the tree first. As he secured one artificial limb, another would fall off. In frustration, the man almost incapable of  temper, viciously wadded up the instructions and threw them aside.

“Let me help,” I offered. “You can’t help me,” he sniffed, as a tear ran down his cheek.

“This isn’t fair” he stated bleakly. “She should be here. My mom should be here to see this.” Jeff was struggling to not only keep the tree together, but himself, as well.

I sat down on the floor with him, leaned in and held him close. We shared our tears for a while, then stepped away for a lunch break.

With his sandwich in between the plate and his mouth, Jeff suddenly stopped and looked up at me. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You don’t have to be sorry,” I immediately answered.

“I’m sorry for what I said… that I thought you’d be over it… after your Dad died.”

“You just didn’t know,” I replied. “And I’m sorry you do, now.”

Jeff’s mouth lifted in a small smile. “You’re the best wife. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

“You didn’t get lucky,” I reminded him with a grin. “I had to use a rolling pin…”

It took all four hands, some wrangling and a bit of good-natured bickering, but we did get the tree up and decorated, and it was beautiful.

We hosted two Christmases that year, both of which meant a great deal to Jeff and I.  We welcomed families and friends, shared wonderful meals, laughed a lot and soaked up christening love; all gathered around our first tree.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-13-ive-come-to-love-these-grainy-memories-first-tree-2003-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Christmas:  why trees and tinsel?

Holidays: and grief

Grinch Song: just because