by Byron Thorson
My mother was the heart and soul of our small family around Christmas time. Everything centered around her. You would have had to know her to fully understand why. Small of physical stature, big of heart and strong willed. That was my mom.
She organized all the decorations for our house every year, including our silver artificial tree and some very special pink ornaments. The tree was old though carefully kept every year and the ornaments were even older, possibly older than I was.
She loved that tree and even more loved the ornaments. When fully assembled, with the lights we had shining on it, the effect was awe-inspiring. I have looked for years for more of those ornaments over half the country. The style is common but I don’t think that particular shade of pink is made anymore.
December 13th, 1977 came crashing down around my ears. I was working 60 miles away when Dad called and said mom was in the hospital. Though I lived a mile from work I would drop everything in a heartbeat to go back to help my folks if anything ever happened. I went totally numb with the next three words I heard: “We lost her.”
After her funeral we couldn’t bear having all the Christmas stuff, mom’s Christmas, around. We couldn’t think too clearly so we didn’t think about donating it all to a church or other charity.
We took it to a flea market just before Christmas. We managed to get rid of most of it except for the tree and those beautiful pink ornaments.
It was nearly closing time for the flea market when an old man and his grandson came wandering by. He wasn’t even looking our direction when Dad hollered, “You want a tree with some ornaments?” The old man replied, “Can’t afford it this year”
Dad said, “Here. Take this. It’s yours. Merry Christmas.”
I was stunned at what Dad had just done, but when I saw the gigantic smile on the old man’s face I felt better.
There was no Christmas at our house that year. Dinner consisted of baloney and cheese sandwiches and cola. But maybe, just maybe, that tree stood fully assembled one more time with those beautiful pink ornaments hanging from it. And the smile was on the grandson’s face.