A bag of cheap Christmas ornaments

We bought them together. It was back in 2010. She had just arrived to this cold and sparsely populated country, and everything was new to her. Especially Christmas. Our apartment was relatively small, so we got a plastic tree at the same place we got the ornaments. It wasn’t expensive ornaments. They just came from one of these budget stores we have in this country. But, she was pleased. I was pleased too. We had just bought ourselves our first Christmas ornaments. We were slowly building common ground, a common life even – always intertwining our lives with possessions, interests and traditions.

I taught her my way of doing Christmas. My familys way of doing Christmas. When to do what – like decorating a Christmas tree – or what to eat. Perhaps we came too much of an indoor couple nursing our interests. Her academia and my growing in-depth history research. We decorated our tree on the 23rd of December. She seemed pleased. Actually, more fascinated than pleased. And so those cheap ornaments became one of our first common tradition with Christmas. They became rooted in our little family of two (later two and a dog – then another dog). Whenever Christmas came, I would bring out our small tree and those dark red coloured ornaments and decorate it. It was almost our first family heirlooms! As an added bonus, my mom hand made several ornaments herself, and gave to us as gifts.

Briging someone into a Christmas holiday is tricky. Everything I connected with this holiday didn’t mean anything to her. The TV shows I used to watch as a child did not ring any bell with her. The outdoors activities on skis were out of reach to her. And so large part of Christmas sort of obliturated without me noticing.

I kept decorating our tree with the same ornaments for seven years. Until I moved out. She asked me if I wanted the ornaments and handed me a plastic bag. Yes, I wanted them. One of the very few things that actually reminded me of Christmas. Of course I wanted to decorate my tree as always the coming Christmas.

In the end, I didn’t. I didn’t bother decorating anything that Christmas. Maybe it was because I was too lazy. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel like decorating anything to no one. Maybe it was because the ornaments reminded me of her. But, everything stayed in it’s plastic bag in a closet. It was the same the coming year, but that year I was barely home and celebrated a good Christmas with other people.

I brought the ornaments with me when I moved house once more. I had no specific plan with them. I didn’t reflect about what would happen if I decorated a new tree with my new family with the ornaments. Of everything that had been going on the past two years, the ornaments were at the bottom of that list. But I brought them down from the attic anyway just to og through them all. Maybe my girlfriend wanted to use some of it. Perhaps some of my mothers hand made ornaments would come in handy.

Of course she didn’t like them. She had our own tradition. Her own ornaments. Her own way of looking at Christmas and how everything should be. And so we decorated the tree I bought (where did that plastic tree actually end up?) with her ornaments. Nothing of mine. In fact, bringing it all down from the attic seemed to raise her level of panic to a certain degree as it suddenly became «too much Christmas stuff».

A colleague came to me a few days before Christmas and asked if I had some old ornaments I didn’t use. She wanted to use them in a prank at the office. I thought about it, and remembered my ornaments now firmly placed back into the attic. Sure, I had ornaments. I went back up to the freezing attic, grabbed my bag of ornaments and gave it to her. She used them in her prank. I’m not sure what happened next, but they most likely ended up in the garbage after that.

And so that’s where our Christmas ended up in the end. As a prank. A joke. The ornaments we bought together and decorated our tree with for so many years. I just gave them away. Anything else would have been silly. They will never have been used again. And, I can always just get some new ones in the future. It’s not like they cost anything.

A plastic bag full of ornaments is just one more object from my former life that is now gone. Parts of me and my past slowly but always continuously wethering away. Things that meant something to me.

There’s almost nothing left of them now.

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Secrets of the Soul

For children, Christmas is a time filled with anticipation, magic and wonders. The 24th is day full of excitement waiting for presents to be opened in the evening. Many children recieve outdoor equipment, whether its skis or snowracers. Others get toys, clothes, candy or even a new iPad. The holiday always feels longer than it really is for kids. The fridge is packed with good food, and the parents are often more leanient on sweets during this wonderfull week.

I remember Christmas as a child with the outmost joy and wonder. Those magical hours on the 24th of December before opening my presents in the evening. The distinctive smell of traditional food in the house all day. My mother singing Christmas carols to herself in the kitchen. Maybe an hour outside on my slalom skis during the daytime. Opening presents in the evening and being in utter shock when I actually get that Super Nintendo game I wished for. Looking at my younger brother being in awe over having Santa visiting and giving him presents. Eating leftovers on the first day of Christmas watching the Narnia series on TV. The countryside is always covered in deep, white snow with little to no traffic on the nearby road. Christmas seemed to go on forever, and then came New Years. It never stopped.

It is perhaps an undeniable truth that the distinctive  feel of the holidays disappear once you get older. The years go by quicker, and those specific emotions you  have as a child never really catch you the same way when you’re grown up. You may, if you are lucky, get sense of the old times when you’ve all grown up, but it’s never really like it used to be. Maybe you’re trying your best as a parent to bring that certain excitement to your own children but not feeling you are suceeding. If you haven’t started your own family, perhaps those feelings and doings of Christmas simply fade away.

I used to be married to a foreigner with no emotional or tradiational connection to Christmas. She didn’t know of, and did not have any fond memories of the holiday and what it could bring. She had no connection to the classic movies on TV. No understanding of the Christmas calendar TV series prior to the 24th. She had no interest in the traditional Norwegian meals. As there were no children involed, there was no real sense of good old Christmas except for those short visits to my parents. Perhaps it would have been different if I had a children. I would have made sure that they too experienced those wonders and excitements like I did when I was young. I would have caught on again as well, and it would have felt more like Christmas – this time seeing it through the eyes of my own child.

The Christmas holidays, for me, have been fading away for over a decade. Last year I didn’t even bother putting up a Christmas tree. There was no point in doing any of it – alone. I had time of work, but I don’t remember what I was doing except walking the dogs and feeling depressed. I didn’t do any of the things I did when I was young any longer. Heck, I didn’t even own a pair of skis any more, and I used to love being out on skis. It was all gone. Everything I loved about the holidays had gone, piece by piece. I never watched the movies or the classic TV series any more. There were no calendars to be opened before Christmas, and snowfall just meant damn trouble.

This year I got it all back.

My girlfriend decorated her house with Christmas bits and bobs in December. Her 7-year old daughter watched the Christmas TV series each evening, and I joined in. I watched the child open her small calendar presents in the mornings and looking at her being excited about what she got. I made homemade beer like my mother used to do, and her mother before her. On the 21st I got out and bought a great but (rather expensive!) Christmas tree. The first time I have ever done so. I brought it back to my girlfriends house just like in the America movies. On the 22nd we decorated it, together. On the 24th we watched the classic TV series and movies together and laughed and smiled at the same cherished parts. I joined her her family for Christmas dinner, and I watched how Santa emerged from the forest with a small lamp to guide his way towards the house. I  saw suspense in the childrens faces when Santa came inside the hallway with all the presents at hand. I watched the children opening their presents in excitement and wonder. We finished the celebrations at four am in the morning.

Between Christmas and New Years, I got out and did the unthinkable. I bought a pair of cross country skis. The first skis I have bought since I was 15 years old. On New Years eve, in the daylight and between thick, snow covered trees, we went out on skis. My first time since I can’t even remember. We visited my parents for coffee and Christmas cookies, and watched the fireworks together on New Years eve. Not blotto with a half full champagne bottle in hand and a drunk mate puking in the bathrom. No, just us together and quite sober alongside one of her best friend and her family of two children and a her husband.

Christmas 2017 was the first time since I was a teenager that I’ve felt that special Christmas feeling.

Thank you for giving it back to me. I love you.

The Hour of the Wolf

Christmas celebrations came up during a conversation yesterday. I started to think back to last Christmas, and what I did then. I can honestly tell you I don’t remember. I think I walked the dogs on the 23rd of December, sobbing silently while I hanging on to them and being pleased it was so dark no cars passing by me could see how much of a mess I was. I vaguely remember coming back home at night from my parents on Christmas Eve and being happy about a canvas photo I got from my dad. Other than that, I don’t remember. I don’t remember if my dogs were with me, but I think they were. According to photos anyway.

I think I might have stopped by my parents on the 25th. After that I don’t remember anything until New Years eve. Did I go to work those days between Christmas Eve and New Years? Did I stay with my ex-girlfriend, or was she working? I honestly don’t know. I think she was working, and I stayed home.

I looked back at my Snapchat roll to see if I had been taking any photos last Christmas. There was nothing really there. There were a few videos of my ex girlfriends daughter on there, cooking me oatmeal which made me miss her, but that was from January.

I didn’t have a tree, I didn’t have any decorations up. That I remember. I didn’t bother. What was the point in making Christmas all by myself anyway. If I wanted Christmas I could visit my mom.

It was a shitty Christmas. That’s what it was. The worst I’ve had. I was so deep inside my own mind I don’t even remember what I was doing – because I wasn’t doing anything at all. I was just being inside myself, trying to find a way out of it.

And it would get worse before it got better – but I already wrote down that part.