One year before the holidays, my mother made ornaments, lovely colorful felt ornaments. I have none of them. They were lost in a move so all I can do is remember them. We don’t even have a photo of any of them although I think there are a few black and white pictures of trees but those pictures can’t do the ornaments justice nor can you discern them because they are so teeny tiny.
There were gingerbread men with white bric-a-brac around the edges like icing. Owls in pink, orange, or green with a rainbow of scalloped feathers. Little drums with still more bric-a-brac and gold braid. Doves with more rainbow layers of scalloped feathers. I don’t remember my mother making them but there were so many and it must have taken her hours, sewing and stuffing while I slept, gluing down the decorative elements. There were nearly enough to fill the entire tree.
In addition to these there were ornaments my mother and I made from papier-mâché Styrofoam balls. I had painted some of them with blobs of color. They were a mess. There were a few my mother had painted and one in particular I adored. It was a royal blue with two partridges on it, one on either side, like a king and queen. My mother had painted these two elegant birds with delicate strokes and luscious colors.
It breaks my heart that these ornaments are long lost, that we don’t even have photographic evidence of these brilliantly colored ornaments. I wish we had the resources then that we have now with cellphones. Taking pictures of these long-lost ornaments would have kept them in my mind more clearly. I might even be able to replicate them for myself. But the truth is, I don’t remember them well enough to do it. I’ve tried to sketch from memory. It just isn’t happening.
If there’s any lesson in this, take pictures of your favorite ornaments. No. That’s not right. Take pictures of all your ornaments even the blobby paint ones. You may find yourself remembering so much more than what the ornament looks like in a photo.