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Monday, December 13, 2010

Chiming in

Even though we’ve been married for ages, each December, when my husband lugs up boxes of Christmas paraphernalia from the basement, I am surprised. He comes by his need to bedeck our home naturally. The first Thanksgiving that I spent at his house when we were dating, I woke up the morning after to his mother decorating a Christmas tree. She had little Santa figurines spread across the mantle and by the end of the day, every common room in the house hosted Christmas décor. This was about as far from anything I was used to, as I could get.

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?

14 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

I wasn't able to get the video to play. My mom and sisters love vintage music boxes. They can be valuable collector items too.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love your little music box and totally understand how it transports you to another time. I have one (Swiss works inside) that's a red-velvet covered bell, and I always wind it up first thing when I unpack the Christmas ornaments.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great you have one special item. We decorate most rooms, but not too crazy. Think my favorite is still my stocking. Had it since I was little. Hope Santa never busts it!

Lydia K said...

There's nothing like a sound memory to hit us right in the core of our hearts.
Lovely post!

Anne Gallagher said...

When we were little my mother had cardboard cut outs of a snowman, a reindeer and an angel to put in front of our gifts. Of course they were bedraggled by the time we were adolescents and so my brother, made wooden ones out of cheap balsam and painted them.

I still have mine and plan on giving it to Monster Baby.

Robin said...

I think that music works exactly like that!

I don't have a favorite decoration, I don't think. My favorite memory as a kid was my mother listening to Christmas records while she wrapped gifts. She has a pretty significant collection and they played pretty much non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And I have great respect for the "old" ornaments that we put on our tree that used to be hers when she was a kid. They were always hung with great care every year. They were not pretty in the traditional sense, but they looked old. From another time. Fragile.

EmptyNester said...

It's lovely!

I can't narrow our decorations to one favorite. My mother has given each of us (there are 6) an ornament and a musical of some Christmas sort and, just for me, a nativity and a piece of Christmas village (I have 50 pieces now--ridiculous). Times all that by 25 years and, well we have a lot of stuff. And I love all of it! If I HAD to choose, it would probably be my Scottish Santa musical.

Mary Vaughn said...

I have several Nativity Scenes. The most recent is a Fisher-Price one. That's my favorite because my dad loved to push the angel and make her sing while he rearranged the scene to bug me. I miss him doing that.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Right now my favorites are my daughter's hand-made ornaments. I especially like the Santa one- his beard is made from tracing her hand.

Ann said...

I think it is those simple little things that mean more to us at Christmas. Funny that! For me it is the traditions that make Christmas. Making the pudding and having my children stir as they make a wish has always signaled Christmas was coming.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Such a precious thing to own. It's beautiful. And one day it will go to your daughter and she will treasure it, I'm sure. So many memories held in one little music box.

How lovely that your husband takes such initiative. Mine loves to see it all up, but he really only participates with stringing all the lights. He'll weather the freezing cold and risk frostbite to get the trees and bushes outside covered in lights, and he'll go as far as covering the Christmas tree with lights, but ask him to hang decorations and he goes running.

glnroz said...

i read like the "dickens" to get to the end hoping that you still had the "parts" of the music box. what a surprise and treat to see the video of it in action. Thanx Ms Liza for the Christmas "gift" of that story...

Megan said...

That's a beautiful memory to keep with your music box. I'm not sure I have a similar evocative decoration, but when I finally get around to hauling those boxes out, I'm gonna search! (And yes, I still haven't decorated yet... I've been quite bad this year!)

Tabitha Bird said...

Hmmm.... makes me think that maybe I need a few more decorations1