Allow me to introduce you to a few of the Very Important Ornaments on the CrazyStable Christmas Tree. At left, the Skater Ball. This is the earliest ornament I can remember; it is probably older than I am (no cracks, please). The color is that of a blood-streaked egg yolk, which may account for why Cookie Monster is staring at it. This ball is my "Rosebud," my "Caddie, caddie," my madeleine. The sight of it every year transports me back to a time of absolute trust and dependence.
This is one of the Package Trim Angels (with a Fat Cat of recent acquisition lurking behind her). Back in the ancient times of my childhood, these were sold for about a dime, to embellish a bow; the wings are a delicate mesh stretched over wires, the harp is cardboard, and the whole affair is affixed to a pipe cleaner. Several of these little girls survived thanks to my mother's obsessional conservation instincts. They are goofy and dainty, and I love them because they managed to surmount their destiny as ephemera.
Ah, but nothing rocks my world every Christmas like tenderly unwrapping and hanging the Sparkly Little Houses. When I was little, I would stare at them in their pine groves lit by blinking colored lights, and my imagination would transform them into fabulous elfin castles in a forest kingdom.
Each year, when I lift the little houses out of tissue paper twists, their glitter looks a bit more sparse, and the glue on the pasteboard seams shows more clearly—and I love them even more. Like our actual house, they must look shabby and inconsequential to the casual observer. Only the eyes of love can invest them with magic and loveliness.
And that is what I wish all my friends, family, and online neighbors this year: lives full of love, the kind of love that can renew enchantment and rekindle light in a world of cynicism and darkness. Best wishes and prayers for 2009.