Christmas at my house was a subdued affair. Tree, check…we pulled it down from the attic the week before the holiday, unbent the wire branches and poked them into the holes drilled in the stem. Wreath, check; it hung from our red front door with a spotlight focused on it.
That, as they say, was that, except for a Christmas music box that my aunt sent to my mother when she and my uncle lived in Germany before I was born. That instrument completed the sum and total of our family Christmas decorations. Adorned with a tubby Santa reaching into an actual cloth bag, it hosted tiny gifts, a wooden doll, a trumpet and a petite Christmas tree. Cherub angels sat on the rim of the rotating base playing with the presents that St. Nick has just passed them. Two blond haired angels leaned over as they gazed into Father Christmas’s bag.
Maybe it was the hand painted Christmas trees decorating the red wooden stand or the chiming melody that emanated from the box, but as kid I loved the thing. Mom sat it on a table in the living room and I’d tiptoe in, turn the key as many times as possible and listen as Santa and the angels circled. I wasn’t the only one, and over the years, the piece got some tough use. Puddles of hard glue pooled where one of the angels fell off; a toy soldier tipped at a precarious angle. The white paint on the base yellowed and cracked. But even so, long after I grew up and moved away, whenever we visited during the holidays and the box was out, I had to give it a play.
Nowadays, our house is decorated inside and out. Lights adorn holly bushes, large wreathes hang in front of the picture windows; another centers on the chimney and I drink in the festive feel my husband’s collection of nutcrackers bestows upon the rooms. Each year, our Frasier fir sheds a few needles as we deck it with gold ribbons and white lights. There is no mistaking Christmas here.
But in spite of our wealth of decorations; all it takes is a vintage music box to get to me. It became mine when my father moved out of his house to an assisted living center a long time ago. Each year, when it comes up the stairs and out of its protective wrapping, I wind the key.
Every single time, the music takes me home.
What is your favorite holiday decoration?