The Christmas Ornament

I found it at the local Hallmark card store, just in time for Christmas.

1981: First Christmas Together

The package included stickers so you could customize your ornament with names. I added them before I wrapped it, and couldn’t wait for him to open it when we exchanged gifts.

Sherri & Scott

In hindsight, it’s an ugly ornament. Made of thin glass with a plastic coating, the Christmas scene on the front — a Victorian couple ice skating — looks cheap and cliché. But to a 16-year-old girl, it felt like something real. Like a way to say I’m crazy about you without really saying it.

So I wrapped it up and presented him the ornament, along with a few other gifts he probably preferred but have been long forgotten. What 17-year-old boy wants a Christmas ornament, anyway? The years I have spent as a mother since then have given me insights into the mind of a teenage boy I didn’t yet have back then.

Pretty sure I should have just kept the ornament for my own tree.

But somehow I was claiming my territory, trying to anchor our relationship within the envelope of his family. To have our ornament displayed on his family’s Christmas tree gave me a tiny shred of confidence that they could see me. See that I was important to him, too.

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time to work a new relationship into the mix. Moms usually have expectations and routines and traditions, certain events and family gatherings that are a “must-do” each December. Some of these begin to fall off the list as the children grow older and Christmas loses a bit of that magic it held when they were small. No more family visits to see Santa, no more driving around the neighborhood in jammies to check out all of the Christmas lights. But family bonds are tight around the holidays, and it’s tough to break in.

I think buying the ornament was a pretty bold gesture, especially from a girl who had only been dating their son for 9 months. But somehow, it passed inspection and his mother agreed (maybe reluctantly) to display our First Christmas Together ornament on the family Christmas tree.

At least when I was expected to visit.

I wouldn’t have blamed her at all for discretely moving it to the back of the tree once I was gone.

You see, there is a special dance between the mother of a son and the girl who steals his heart.  A give-and-take that many young girls take as a sign they aren’t welcome or liked or even tolerated. But it isn’t always about the girl, and that part I didn’t understand until I had a son of my own. Until our first Christmas together in 1981 unfolded into a lifetime of them spent as a couple, then a family.

And while the girl or young woman sees a potential future in the handsome young man, the mother still has her heart wrapped around the little boy who used to sit on Santa’s lap and leave crumbly cookies on a plate each Christmas Eve. The boy who willingly wore a red sweater vest for the Christmas Eve church service and belted out carols like nobody was listening. The boy who untied the bows on the advent calendar with excitement and the anticipation of ringing the bell at the bottom on Christmas Eve. The boy who played with silvery strands of tinsel and stole candy canes from low-lying branches.

The boy whose eyes brightened when the lights were first lit on the Christmas tree each year.

Now his eyes brighten at the sight of her.

And maybe she is very special to him, and the mother understands that to hold her son in her heart she needs to make room for one more.

One more person, one more ornament.

This year, I am that mom.

Our First Christmas Together ornament hangs front and center on our own family Christmas tree, 33 years later.

And I have room for one more.

Comments

  1. Dang, Sherri, you get me every single time. I have goosebumps and tears.
    I’m going upstairs now to lock my teenage son in his room.

  2. This is so beautiful. I love that you made the connection, made a circle all the way from the beginning.

  3. This is so beautiful, Sherri. You made me cry. Good thing I have a few years until this happens 😉

  4. gorgeous and breathtaking; you took me to 16, 28, and 50 and then back again.

  5. Crying. This is so lovely. xox

  6. Such a touching piece. Thanks for sharing. My son is all grown up now too, but I feel like he is still my little boy.

  7. Love this so much, Sherri. I certainly understand your comment re ‘give and take’… It isn’t always about the girl. Although making room is necessary, it isn’t always easy.
    – from a mom of sons

  8. Wow, you give such amazing perspective, on both sides.

    Making room for one more is bittersweet but I would assume mostly sweet. 🙂

  9. Lump In My Throat.
    Jack is 17 and a half. He began dating his girlfriend a year ago.
    Their one year anniversary is December 29th.
    Oh. My.

    Until I read this post, it hadn’t occurred to me…this concrete knowledge that 33 years from now she could still be in his life. And ours.
    Or not. It will be one of those options, I suppose.

    And in between this year and 33 Christmases from now, there will be so much love.
    (Probably also pain and hope and more love.)

    So we will make room here for that, too. No matter what. No matter who.
    Someone will love my children and that will make them among the most special people in the world to me.

    Merry Christmas, Sherri. To you and to your extraordinary family.

  10. Awwww…that was as perfect as it gets. However in my home, my daughter is so anal about that tree, that she’d be the one hiding the decoration at the back of the tree.

  11. Dorothycop says:

    Revolutional update of SEO/SMM software “XRumer 16.0 + XEvil”:
    captcha recognition of Google, Facebook, Bing, Hotmail, SolveMedia, Yandex,
    and more than 8400 another categories of captchas,
    with highest precision (80..100%) and highest speed (100 img per second).
    You can connect XEvil 3.0 to all most popular SEO/SMM software: XRumer, GSA SER, ZennoPoster, Srapebox, Senuke, and more than 100 of other software.

    Interested? You can find a lot of demo videos about XEvil in YouTube.
    See you later 😉

    XRumer20170718

  12. Dorothycop says:

    Revolutional update of SEO/SMM software “XRumer 16.0 + XEvil”:
    captcha solution of Google, Facebook, Bing, Hotmail, SolveMedia, Yandex,
    and more than 8400 another categories of captchas,
    with highest precision (80..100%) and highest speed (100 img per second).
    You can connect XEvil 3.0 to all most popular SEO/SMM programms: XRumer, GSA SER, ZennoPoster, Srapebox, Senuke, and more than 100 of other software.

    Interested? There are a lot of impessive videos about XEvil in YouTube.
    Good luck 😉

    XRumer20170718

Speak Your Mind

*