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If Ornaments Were Only for Christmas

I pause in the bank parking lot, realizing after starting the engine that the three bangles I had selected that morning were no longer dangling and clinking over my wrist. I left them on my desk at work. I’m sure. I’m mostly sure I’m sure, and still. The idea of losing them overrules the ridiculousness of the extra phone call.

“Hi, Laura.”


“I think I left my bracelets on my desk. Can you go check?”

“Sure.” Pause. “I’m walking into your office now.”

“Okay. It would be three slim bangles.”

“Yes, I see them. They’re to the left of your computer.”

I nod to only winter glare across my windshield. “Yeah, sometimes they’re annoying when I type so I take them off. I just noticed so I wanted to check.”

And, if they are so inconvenient, or annoying, why did I select them? A brightness flashes sharp as I turn my head. I’m seeing the glitter of Christmas, the less than practical kind, tinsel.

Laura continues, “I found a Christmas ornament coding activity for the meeting. Looks fun and it’s STEM.”

Christmas? “That sounds familiar.” All of it too familiar. I continue only with, “The coding part. At the library I saw an activity like that where they made bracelets.” I twist one hand over my wrist sleeve, and then tap the imaginary bracelets on my wrist seeing them atop my workspace. “Are you sure about the Christmas ornament part?”

“I asked. Everyone celebrates Christmas. They all raised their hands.”

“Maybe. But, I might have raised my hand too and I would felt. . . conflict.”

“Hmm. Actually this looks kind of hard anyway.”

Pine needle green. Rough trunk brown. Sawed slender white rings. Perhaps there’s a connection to the tree, to its adornment, beyond the holiday. I can almost feel the smooth floral curve of the imprinted metal. I squint into the sharp reflection on the shimmering, wintry colors.

The next day on the drive to work, another bracelet is wrapped around my wrist. This one is less bothersome because the magnet clasp tugs more snugly. It’s green and beaded. I identify it most from its origin, a holiday exchange when I said I wanted no gifts. I had to recant the statement years later after I left that job by saying a truth, “I’m glad I have it. Every time I wear it, I find myself in a memory.” The tight roundness could almost be pine boughs, woven, tightly.

The light turns red. I stop. The perpendicular lanes of traffic move. Their light is green. Red and green are a binary for all but one month of the year. Red. Green.

I reach for my ear lobes. Added to this bracelet is an always companion, a pair of circular golden earrings. My niece selected this accessory for our most recent family photo together, which isn’t very recent at all. And what of the three bangles waiting for me next to my computer? The slender metal that had me concerned the day before? My mother received those from her mother. They were not officially given to me but came to me after her unexpected death. Laura had wanted to make Christmas ornaments, but the reality is that ornaments aren’t only for Christmas trees.

As the stoplight changes green, I smile to myself at the idea. Christmas tree or not, I participate acts of adornment as remembrance every month of the year.

I can list the bobbles in the box that we no longer hang. The popsicle sled from second grade. The golden tinted wreath with our last name and a year on it. The wooden candy cane from a music teacher. The plastic image of Sleeping Beauty from a college roommate. In my office are books stood up to display their covers, cards tacked into walls, paperweights, and even the lotion in my drawer. All these colorful and crafted materials hold memories whether they adorn a tree or me.

I knock on Laura’s door and ask, “What if they coded their names, but could then twist their pipe cleaners into any object they want? It could be an ornament, but also a key chain or a bracelet.”

“Hmm,” she ponders. “That could work.”

It would be more disappointing, after all, if ornaments were only for Christmas.


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