Dear private diary
We had our first seasonal dusting of snow last night. I think it was a blanket of love that wrapped icy fingers around my heart until the love of friendship, and memories of those gone could warm my soul.
In forty-seven years of growing, I’ve been blessed to spend every single Christmas day with my parents, except one. That was the first year that I traveled to Europe. While that was a wonderful experience, I missed my family horribly.
In twenty-one of those years I have been married, & I’ve put up and decorated my own Christmas tree. This year is my twenty-second year of marriage and this year we put up, not just a Christmas tree but a friendship tree. A tiny little table top tree with a big heart and lots of soul.
Last night as the snow was falling, our little home was full of friends. Not just friends, but special people, whose kindness, trust and laughter and yes, tears I know I will carry with me all the rest of my life.
My friend Karen and I sat back, like spectators at some big event, sipping our wine, laughing and cheering on the festivities. Watching as Karen’s step children and our dear friend LaDonna decorated this special tree, I leaned over and whispered to Karen, “this is the first time I have not decorated my own tree.” That was when I realized we had a friendship tree this year.
If you have been following along, you will know that this has been my big year of personal change and growth. Somehow letting go and not decorating that tree, not controlling every single light and ornament placement, symbolizes for me how much letting go has really given me freedom.
This past week, I think I have learned more, felt more with my heart than I can really measure with time or say with words. My heart has ached for my friends as they have gone through a very difficult time. I’ve learned to cherish the traditions and memories of Christmas past, and to embrace and accept new ones.
I have wine bottle trees. I guess I should say, in the past, when I was doing more work with the metal than the glass, I welded up a bunch of “wine bottle trees”, you know – steel stakes with branches on it so that you could decorate it with empty bottles. They are fun and where else are you gonna put your empty wine bottles? I sold them mostly at wine festivals that I attended.
A few months ago, I started decorating a tree (a real tree) over in the side yard with empty wine, champagne, and yes tequila bottles from the various special events that had taken place over the summer. Each of the bottles reminds me of special time we had with our friends and family. I didn’t tell anyone that I had done this, and I don’t think until recently when the leaves all came off the tree that Charles even realized that I had been hanging the bottles up in the tree. My own little secret laugh.
Thanksgiving day my friend Karen lost her father. This week she lost one of her dearest friends, Amy. I only met Amy one time, she came out to my studio open house last spring. I was touched by her grace and dignity – she knew she was dying and didn’t have long – she was a beautiful soul and she was funny.
Last Sunday, I was honored to spend time with Karen as she shared family stories about her Dad, we drank a few bottles of wine and toasted his memory. Last night, we did the same for her friend, Amy.
Early morning as the snow was melting, I quietly added those bottles to my tree. I had been calling it a wine bottle tree, but somehow this morning as I hung each bottle, I realized that this too was a friendship tree – a living friendship tree.
We are not of material things but of spirit. Some how after I wrote that I had to laugh – the double meaning of spirit tickled my funny bone and sick sense of humor. Then, I recalled how Karen told me it was laughter that was getting her through the hard times.
Here is to laughter and tears and new traditions.