While Michael was out Saturday doing his Christmas shopping, I stayed home to put up the Christmas tree and make stockings for the pets and Christmasfy the house. First off, let me tell you about making stockings. This required me to use a sewing machine and we all know that my relationship with my sewing machine is not good. We don't care for each other at all. When I dragged it out of storage, dusted it off and plugged it in, I anticipated a large amount of swearing. For some reason, loading a bobbin correctly is the hardest thing to do, but after the second try and a little sewing on a test piece of fabric, everything seemed to be working normally. The next thing I knew, I was sewing along like I knew what I was doing, pulling pins as I went and storing them between my lips like my momma taught me. There was a brief moment when things were going so well that I looked around to see if any one was watching and I thought "who the fuck is this person using a sewing machine?!?!"
It took me longer to get the sewing machine out and then put away than it did to do the actually sewing. This was also kind of true for decorating the tree. It took longer to bring up the boxes than it did to put the ornaments on the tree. Michael and I had discussed before I even started that maybe I shouldn't put anything important out and on the tree this year. It's the first Christmas with a puppy and a cat. Josephine has already removed and destroyed one cardboard elephant from the tree, as well as tiny bearded gnome. I have sprayed the cat many times with a can of compressed air. It was agreed that by "important" we both were talking about my Babar ornament. I was totally amazed that Chris was able to find a replacement that one time. I could not tempt fate and expect to find Babar a third time. Most of my ornaments are plastic or paper or cloth, so I went ahead and just put everything except Babar on the tree.
Every Christmas, since we've been together, Michael and I have picked out an ornament for the tree that is an "us" ornament. The first year, we picked out a Santa riding a trout. It made zero sense, but it was ridiculous and seemed to be fitting because we hadn't really been in our relationship long enough to have an idea of what represented "us". The second year we picked out a record player because I had gotten Michael's record player fixed and I had purchased a bunch of Dorris Day and Barbara Streisand records. Cleaning days were a mix of his records and mine, with me singing along to all of them. This year we had plans to get a VW bus ornament because that's all we seem to be able to talk about these days, but when we went to the store, they were sold out. We settled on an R2D2 and Darth Vader set because the new Star Wars movie comes out Friday and we have tickets to see it Saturday. (Buying Star Wars ornaments with Michael is a little I don't have a word for it, but he likes Star Wars a whole lot, just not on the level that Chris liked Star Wars and this is a completely other topic of conversation.)
As we were placing the new ornaments on the tree, Michael asked me about the ornaments already on the tree. He wanted to know how many I'd left off the tree this year because the tree was not loaded down with ornaments. I admitted that I'd really only excluded Babar from the tree and then I looked at him and asked "I have told you what happened to all our ornaments right?" He said he vaguely remembered, but asked for a refresher. I gave him a brief run down version of how the Grinch disguised as a mean dog with inconsiderate owners destroyed our Christmas ornaments. And they were not just a box of generic ornaments either. These were ornaments that we had collected over the years of our marriage, ornaments that had been from our childhoods, one of a kind irreplaceable ornaments. As I got to the part about how Babar had been turned into colored dust, I felt my throat close up and tears prick my eyes. I was surprised by my reaction to telling this story again, surprised that it still stung after all this time. Michael was appropriately outraged and I shrugged and said "I'm still building back my collection from that time."
We are building back that ornament collection. The Christmas tree is a blending of memories that grows every year. Chris and I managed to gather a small number of ornaments together after the destruction of the old ones. There's an Ecto-1 and a Wall-E on the tree to replace the Enterprise and Yoda. I've added in some new elephants and Chris did find me a new Babar. After a moment of hesitation, I took Babar out of the box and set him on a shelf along with my Abominable Snowman. It just didn't seem right, after all of that, to leave him tucked away in a box. Now Michael and I are adding our own ornaments to the collection. Sure, it's not much now, but give us a few more years and I bet it will be a spectacular collection.