This year, when the first day of December arrived, I opened a brand new journal — my Christmas journal — and began writing a kind of stream of consciousness mixture of present experiences and past memories. It was an experiment in trying to capture the Christmas spirit by writing about ordinary things — by recording descriptions of people and places that mean — and meant –something special to me. I always hesitate before writing the first sentence in a new journal, but I gathered my courage and put pen to paper. The result ranged from the weather to an angel with a broken wing.
Here is my entry for the beginning of the holidays:
I awaken to a perfect California winter day — clear blue skies and a gentle breeze. The leaves of the liquid ambers dot the lawn in irregular patterns of yellow and brown, for we have not had enough frost to turn them crimson. A few end of autumn roses sit bravely on bare stems, and the last of the mums drape themselves over each other like languishing ladies in yellow and white gowns.
It will soon be soup weather — fresh vegetable, I think. I dream of it simmering on the back of the stove, but know that won’t happen until I peel the carrots, chop the onions, and roll ground turkey into tiny spicy meat balls to add the last twenty minutes.
The Christmas tree comes out of storage, and my son and grandsons set it up in the living room, then open the boxes of ornaments. There is nothing formal about my tree, for it holds baubles from China, Egypt, Italy, Mexico, Greece, and the Holy Land, along with old family ornaments and the hand-made paper stars that, years ago, were folded and dipped in starch and silver sprinkles. If we wanted ornaments in the years of World War II, we made our own.
I help the boys as they clip colorful glass birds to the limbs. “These are very old, aren’t they?” Brandon wants to know.
“And fragile,” I remind him.
Then we unwrap my mother’s creche set — the one she brought back from Italy. The figures are carved from lovely, smooth olive wood and are quite beautiful. But I treasure most the plaster of paris angel with the broken wing that my Sunday School teacher gave me when I was about nine. She has golden hair and a white robe, and a little smudge on her face from childhood kisses.
The Italian creche set has an angel, too — one that is a work of art. But mine has a heart. I know this because so many memories come with her when I lift her out of the box.
That’s all I wrote for the first day of December. I wonder if, buried among the boxes and tissue paper wrappings, I might find a story about that angel with the broken wing. I will just keep journaling and see what develops.
Submitted by Marilyn Donahue