Love makes new memories

By Mir
December 11, 2008

This past weekend, we put up the Christmas tree.

Otto brought the necessary boxes and bundles down from the attic, and he set up the tree while I wandered around the house with a fistful of candle lamps in one hand and some scotch tape in the other, and extension cords draped around my neck. The stocking holders went onto the mantel. The various decorations were put in their designated positions. And by the time the kids arrived home on Sunday night, it was all done.

Except for the ornaments, of course. We waited for them to trim the tree.

Now, I was raised Jewish and didn’t start celebrating Christmas until after I converted to Christianity in college. This means that I don’t have a collection of ornaments dating back to my childhood, of course. But the kids get at least one ornament every year.

Santa always tucks an ornament into their stockings. He tries very hard to make it something that makes sense for the given year—so the year Monkey was train-crazy he got a Thomas the Tank Engine one and when Chickadee was obsessed with Veggie Tales she got Bob and Larry. Some years their ornaments “match,” like when they both got Willow Tree angels (a boy with a puppy for him, a girl with a book for her). Last year, they celebrated their first Georgia Christmas with bulldog ornaments. And then, of course, there are extras; when I took Chickie to The Nutcracker the first time, she got an ornament from that, for example.

We had several friends with whom we did ornament exchanges back in New England, too. To circumvent the whole “too many toys” thing, each year we’d have the kids swap ornaments, instead. And of course I have some ornaments, and Otto has some ornaments, and there are the ornaments the kids made over the years, and—my favorite—the tiny little photo frame ornaments showing the children at various ages and stages.

What this all means is that trimming the tree is an hour or two strolling down memory lane.

“Monkey, look how short your hair was!”

“I remember getting this one….”

“Wait, is this one yours or mine?”

The most sentimental member of our clan is Chickadee, without a doubt. Two years ago she hung an icicle ornament on our tree too close to the edge of a branch, and it slipped off and shattered on the hardwood floor. She’d cried for an hour. That was the most special and wondrous icicle ornament in the history of icicle ornaments, given to her by a particular family friend ESPECIALLY FOR HER and there would never be its equal, lo unto the end of time.

Needless to say, when we trimmed the tree LAST year without anything breaking, I heaved a sigh of relief.

But this year, this Sunday, as we talked and laughed and decorated the tree together, Chickadee was skipping around and holding a blown-glass snowman by the clip at the top…

… and somehow the spindly wire tension holder that sits down inside the glass slipped out. I watched in agonizing slow-motion as the snowman sailed across the room…

… and shattered on the wood.

“Oh NOOOOOOOOOO—” she began to wail, and I cut her off as both children made to dart for the still-grinning snowman head, lying face up and jaggedy-necked in the wreckage.

“STOP!” I bellowed. “NOBODY MOVE!” We were all barefoot. A broken ornament I can handle; a trip to the ER to have glass dug out of someone’s foot, somewhat less so. “Broken glass!” I said, lowering my voice and taking in the tears in front of me. “Just… let me and Otto clean it up, and no one walk over there, okay?”

Otto handled most of the glass removal, while I sat on the couch with a sobbing Chickadee.

“It was very special,” she gulped between tears, “And I got it from E’sMom, and I’ll probably never even see her again, and there will never ever be another one and I’ve lost the only thing she gave meeeeeeee….” Oh, you have never heard such pitiful wailing. Thankfully, I was able to point out not only several other gifts from E’sMom that she still has, but I was even able to find another ornament from E’sMom she’d already hung on the tree. But I understood her sorrow—E’sMom had been one of my closest friends in our old home, and our parting did not go well. I haven’t spoken to her since before we moved. This wasn’t just about the ornament, it was about our old life, and things that slip away.

I’d finally gotten her calmed down—and Otto had removed all traces of the carnage—when I realized that Monkey had disappeared. I continued comforting Chickadee, and a minute later there was a flash of small boy in flight as he careened off the staircase and went running full-tilt into my office.

Otto and I exchanged A Look, and then he went to investigate.

A minute later, they emerged.

“Don’t cry, Chickie,” Monkey said softly, patting her hair. “It’s okay. Look, I made you another one.”

(photo courtesy of Otto)

She looked up, and I waited for the inevitable “that’s ugly” or “don’t be stupid” or “that’s just a piece of paper.” I may have even held my breath.

“I even put a hanger in it for you!” he continued, hopefully. “Well, Otto did. But it’s ready to go on the tree!”

Chickadee smiled. Not a giant smile, mind you, but a smile nonetheless. “Thank you,” she said to her brother. He beamed.

I held it out to Otto, and he took the picture. And then Chickadee hung her new snowman on the tree. It’s right in the front, perfectly centered, so that you can’t possibly miss it.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope this holiday season brings you a bounty of memories—both new and old—to cherish.


  1. diane

    Oh my. I think I’m in love with Monkey. How sweet – of both of them, he for thinking to do it, and her for her gracious acceptance.

    You are doing an exceptional job raising your kids, Mir.

  2. Jill W.

    That’s two days in a row of making me tear up. Knock it off, already…

    Great stories, though.

  3. Jill

    I’m with Jill W. Quit making us cry!

    But it was awfully sweet . . .

  4. Megan

    This makes a lovely companion to yesterday’s post.

    We buy The Ornament each year – there might be others purchased but one is special, particular to that year. This year’s is a tiny pottery blue bird since hiking in a canyon filled with blue jays has been particularly important. We have lots of moose, fish from the first year in Alaska (and a fishing rod for when Kirk started fly fishing with the Children), a crystal tear drop from Germany… none of it goes together except that it all means something to us. And yes, every year we tell stories about why we got each ornament and where we were and what we all remember about it – happy memories, good ones, and although the hardest ornament is the one from the year our family shattered it’s good to add the ones from later, ones that remind us that we are still a family just the same.

  5. annette

    I haven’t had such a good few days with my kids. Can we
    trade for a few days? I know I will want mine back…eventually:)!

  6. Julie

    Alright, the people around me at work are going to start wondering why I’m sniffling every morning . . . that’s 2 days in a row you’ve made me cry. What a beautiful memory. I so love when the siblings are truly kind to one another.

  7. liz

    Two days in a row all teary at work. You are heartless to your readers, you know?
    (((hugs))) to all of you.

  8. Beachgal

    wow, oh wow, I’m crying that is so sweet. What an incredibly awesome little boy. Best wishes to your family, and thanks for sharing so many stories.

  9. Jen

    i TOLD you to stop making me cry! Happy Love Thursday!!

  10. Debbi

    Wow…I just want to hug your kids. (and I had a tissue ready for today, glad I did, lol)

    Happy Love Thursday to you too. And may you also cherish these memories forever.

  11. Aimee

    *Sniffle* That’s TWO DAYS IN A ROW of me weeping at my desk, you heartless blogger, you.

    Happy Love Thursday.

  12. Leandra

    TWO DAYS IN A ROW! Tomorrow better be about something completely irrelevant and scatalogical. So that I won’t cry. Dang it.

  13. Jean

    Mir, you have raised two truly wonderful children. This brought me to good tears. :)

  14. exile on mom street

    As if I didn’t want my Grasshopper to have a sibling BEFORE reading this post….

    I have to tell you that a few years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, my storage unit was burglarized and I lost every. single. ornament.

    I wailed like your Chickadee.

  15. Stephanie

    Wonderful… :) Now THAT is Christmas…

  16. StephLove

    What a sweet boy you have and C was pretty gracious, too.

    I love those moments when my kids are kind to each other. Makes up for all the screaming and fighting over nonsense.

  17. Kim

    Awww so sweet. And two days in a row you made me cry… But in a good way. :)

  18. Scottsdale Girl

    Guh, so much for the eyeliner.

    My granny bought my brother and me an ornament every year. It was the one gift we got to open on Christmas eve and every year we were delighted. Actually she STILL buys me an ornament every year (Hello Granny! 41 now!)

    I still have all those ornaments.

    Although now I don’t put up a tree because it’s me and 5 animals in the house and I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to deal with the messes a tree full of pointy breaky things and 5 animals would bring.

  19. Half Assed Kitchen

    Is it just me, or is the word ORNAMENT starting to look really weird?

    btw, love this story. ;)

  20. C

    Those moments make all the yuck moments of having two children disappear for me.

  21. Barbara

    Perfect. Parenting. Evidence.

    I have to get dressed each morning to take my youngest to school. I supposed I could wear pajamas and risk not getting into an accident on the way. But since I don’t wear pajamas, I might as well dress in something to drive there and back. This (mostly) SAHM-gig is mostly sweet. Except for the lack of money. Still, it’s 1030 and I am going into the kitchen to make myself something to eat ’cause I’m hungry. Now. You’re welcome!

  22. Burgh Baby

    Quick! Get permission to laminate that little snowman so that he lasts forever! (Or, if you’re insane, decoupage it to some wood or something.)

    Best Love Thursday post yet, hands down.

  23. Stacia

    That’s so sweet it made me tear up. What a caring boy Monkey is. And if you need more ornaments, I have 3 large tubs of them, unused, out in my garage.

  24. jennielynn

    That is stinkin’ beautiful.

  25. Heidi

    Simply beautiful!

  26. Brian

    I completely understand how important tangible reminders of loved ones are. I grew up in Roswell, NM and there is ornament factory there called Christmas by Krebs. I’m fuzzy on the story, but years ago they produced a seires of balls that apparently the color did not turn out right or something. So they sold them locally and they were called Roswell Reds. My grandparents had one and I got it after they died. One year, my cat was messing with the tree and the ornament shattered even though it landed on the carpet. My wife searched the internet in vain trying to find another one but she couldn’t I was devastated for a day. I still miss that ornament every christmas, but I still hold the memories of my grandparents in my heart. Thanks for sharing this story today.

  27. Chris

    I have never been moved to tears by a post, but this one did it. We should all be so lucky to have someone want to heal our hurts so generously. You are a very, very blessed family.

  28. MomCat

    Awww!! I love that story! When a brother can get his sad sister to smile, that’s truly love. *sniff*

  29. Swistle


  30. k-ma

    oh my lord that is absolutely adorable. and damn if that didn’t make me cry. what sweet children you have.

  31. Sheila

    There you go. There’s your GOODWILL and CHEER you were lamenting about yesterday. Right there in your living room.

    It’s nice, isn’t it?

    Merry Christmas-

  32. TC

    I pride myself on NOT being sentimental about ornaments–being a crotchety old Jew who is probably personally responsible for the purported War on Christmas(TM)–but this? Totally made me cry.

    You rock, Monkey. And Chickie, we’re all proud of you. Way to rise to the occasion.

  33. keyomi

    he’s a sweet heart no doubt!! :)

  34. Heidi

    That’s two days in a row of making me tear up. Since Jill mentioned the same thing, I can blame you instead of hormones.

  35. kath

    oh my, two days in a row you’ve made me get all teary eyed and sentimental …

    good job!

  36. JNo

    That’s so sweet. Every year our “tradition” is for both boys to select a special ornament for themselves (now 9 and 6 yrs old). We get home from the store and in the excitement of the new ornament, they play with them and in no more than 30 minutes they’re somehow missing a part. So now we have to stop off for superglue before getting home with the ornaments. Unfortunately 9 tried to glue it himself without telling anyone. So while trying to un-stick him (fingers, bare belly, everything else) we had to talk about asking for help and letting people know what’s going on. Weird tradition but, well, it’s ours.

  37. Heather

    Awwww! You must be doin somethin right Mir <3

  38. Jennifer Suarez

    Beautiful. Monkey has such a good heart. You have raised him to be a gentleman already.

  39. Lori

    So sweet. From Monkey’s generous heart to Chickadee’s sentimentality, you are raising some amazing little humans.

  40. margie

    see, how wonderful our children can be when they know, just know, it’s the time to be wonderful.

  41. Laura

    Snif, snif!

  42. Ann

    Gah! Twice in two days! *sniff*. That’s the magic of Christmas!

  43. Kati

    *blinking frantically* So sibling love is possible around the holidays…please oh please let Love Thursday spill into our house…

  44. joaaanna

    So when you tell this story to her year’s from now – she’ll treasure that ornament. So sweet.

  45. Flea

    A Thursday to tear up over. :)

  46. Amy

    Stop making me cry! I can’t take it anymore. So very, very sweet. :)

  47. ImpostorMom

    seriously, no more crying!
    Such sweet, sweet children.

  48. Kelly

    Yup, I’m crying. That was so sweet! What big hearts your kiddos have. Be sure to save that special ornament forever.

  49. momzen

    Man, I’m trying to maintain my “bah humbug” attitude about xmas, but you are MAKING IT REALLY HARD! Your kids are great. (So are you).

  50. kd@abitsquirrelly

    That is the sweetest story ever. Thank you.

  51. Arina

    Adorable. What a wonderful story!

  52. nil zed

    Oh Mir. I did that too. Gave the girls appropriate ornaments each year, and kept track of gift ornaments which their Grannies and Great Grannies favored when the girls were infants (for some reason, a few years later they took to giving bookstore gift cards to their herds of grand and great grandchildren). Anyway, I anticipated at seperate times, say, each first married Christmas, I’d pack up their ornaments and send them on.

    You cannot possibly imagine how I bawled 2 Christmases ago as I undecorated, dividing ornaments into hers, hers and mine boxes because I was moving overseas and leaving them behind. Oh, this was an unexpected turn of events! They came over and, just so I’d remember the true spirit of Christmas, got into arguments over the bits and bobs in the bottom of my Christmas boxes. Plain baubles and odd light strings their dad’s mom had given me and most of which I’d never used had to be divided evenly and fairly. Jeez. Way to go girls.

    Anyway, the oldest has an annual cocktail party so has used hers. The youngest was always the family decorating fiend so has used hers even though she had half a bedroom in a very overfull shared apartment. But, I’ve spent the last two Christmases at my sister-in-laws and so have not decorated a tree. Good thing as I’d probably cry every time I looked at it.

    Never fear though, their new little brother has an ornament from last year (a matched set of 3, I decided that would mark the girls last, and his first) and there is one for this year. Next Christmas will be the first Christmas home, and his first tree. I may demand the loan of their ornaments. At least the unbreakables! (The oldest is getting married this year. His parents will hve had them over the holidays for two years already while they were dating/engaged. Next year is MINE!

  53. The Other Leanne

    You do realize that if we all had your address you’d be getting about a thousand ornaments in the mail…

  54. Peggy

    awwww that is the true spirit of Christmas

  55. BethRD

    What a sweet Monkey! And what a good big sister to see the love that was expressed there!

    We tend to buy an ornament or two every year, usually when we’re traveling. This year our big trip didn’t yield any ornaments, so we decided to let SS (who is six) pick one out at the tiny gift shop at the place where we always buy our tree. My son selected a Santa ornament, which is fairly conventional, except that Santa in the one my son picked is naked except for his hat. (He’s sitting down, so you can’t see anything really scary but still.) I can’t think of anything that could capture my son’s sixth year more accurately than his preference for what we’ve been referring to as Nudie-butt Santa. Merry Christmas!

  56. Sara

    My sweet daughter did this for me last year. A cherished Snoopy ornament (made by my first grade heart-thob’s mother) was missing. I was sad and we looked high and low for it. My hubby went out to the compost heap to see if it was thrown out with last year’s tree and my 5 year old went off to the art room to replace the ornament. We later found the Snoopy but I cherish the bright yellow paper one more!

    Monkey is a doll!

  57. ChristieNY

    Your post literally had me in tears, Mir. I love me some Monkey and Chickie. Hugs!

  58. Kristi

    Empathy, much?

    Dear Santa,

    Send me a monkey.

    Thank you,

    Jealous mother of 4 non-monkeys

  59. Krisco

    You write the most amazing stories! I’m sure you make it all up and Monkee could not POSSIBLY be that sweet! (I’m kidding, of course. That is the sweetest little brother thing, EVER.)

  60. Krisco

    Mir, looking at that picture again, I have to give you a little grief. BECAUSE I LOVE YOU and you’re pretty. And that is – immediately after one of the sweetest little kiddie moments ever – you think to capture it. FOR THE BLOG. : )

    On the other hand, I completely understand. That’s what it’s for, after all. :)

  61. Madge

    When my sister was little, my mom dropped the lid to a casserole dish and it broke (yes, just the lid broke. Not the actual dish). My sister wailed and cried because “that was my faaaaavorite casserole diiiiiish”. How’s that for sensitive kids…

    ps-your kids are soooo sweet

  62. Nancy R

    Promise me you’ll put the date on the back and maybe jot a note about it’s creation? And maybe laminate it? Thanks.

  63. alice

    You’re wanting me to cave and have kids, aren’t you?! Seriously, these are the moments that make all of the other ones worthwhile – they’re what I’m looking forward to for when the eventual kids do come along. You’ve got an amazing family, Mir, and you’ve worked hard to get it that way. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  64. Randi

    Awww – isn’t it nice when they make you realize that you haven’t raised rabid wolves?

  65. Headless Mom

    You have raised a mighty fine young man. *sniff* Thanks for the great story, Mir. I love this one.

  66. Jessalyn

    You’re killing us here, Mir! What sweethearts you have.

  67. Lo

    Lovely. And perhaps the nicest, most unexpected treasure was Chickadee’s response.

  68. Brigitte

    Oh, man. What everyone else said! You’ll have to read yourself these Chickadee posts whenever her evil alter-ego appears, so you remember her inner sweetness! And I know Monkey does the sweet stuff, but still, how many brothers that age would have run to comfort their older sister like that?

  69. sheila

    How sweet as I tear up this morning. It’s so special when one child can comfort another, especially when they tend to be ‘at each other’ more than sharing special moments. What a beautiful post. And a beautiful replacement snowman!

    I don’t know if you are into awards and that type of thing, but I left one for ya over at my place. It’s yours if you’d like it.

  70. Keyona

    Jeez, made me cry AGAIN. Sibling love is so precious and sweet.

  71. Laura

    so, so sweet. What a truly kind child he is.

  72. tj

    Aw, beautiful. Through all the sibling chaos, there is always moments like this that need to be cherished. Happy Love Thursday!

  73. Daisy

    Sniff. Lump in throat.

  74. Laurie

    Need to laminate that ornament!

  75. Michael Boyter

    What a wonderful idea and story. Thank you for a wonderful

    Michael B

  76. The FringeGirl

    Oh, that story is SO sweet!

    I want to start getting my kids an ornament. I don’t have any from childhood and I wish my mom were a little more sentimental.

    Thanks for a great idea. Sorry about the tears and shattered glass.


  77. just beth

    dear sweet baby jeezus. that is a great story. your kids rock.



  78. Katie in MA

    Good lord, woman – stop making me cry!!!

  79. Karate Mom

    Fantastic, fantastic story!

    I have a boy who is a big, ‘ol lump of heart, just like Monkey, and does neat little things like that. Melts my heart every time!

  80. Lisa

    That totally made me tear up. What a boy.

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