It’s time for the popcorn and cranberry garlands, now that the Christmas tree is here, and all the lights have been woven through its fragrant boughs. And so tonight I begin, two kernels of popcorn to one cranberry at a time, putting the finishing touch onto our tree – the traditional “this is the best one we’ve ever had” tree.
This year, it’s a solo activity – by the time everyone comes home, it will have been completed. And so, as I string each cloud- like kernel of popcorn and ruby- red cranberry, I think back to years past…
It’s always the last bit of decorating, and it’s always left to the week leading to Christmas.
As soon as the last ornament had found its perfect spot, I’d pop some corn in the old Revere Ware kettle that came to us from my husband’s beloved Aunt Helen and Uncle Don. That, together with a bag of cranberry, some thread, and a needle or two, would become a fixture under the tree. And every night, after my lesson planning and grading were (mostly) done, I’d put on some music of the season, our favorite being this:
and soon, a child would join me. We’d weave away, and I’d hear stories of crushes, heartbreak, and school gossip. Of books being read, papers being written, subjects being wrestled with. Of dreams to travel the world, try new things, venture to new places. Of new fashions to try, soccer moves to experiment with, songs to sing. Of big stories about the heart and soul, and small stories about everyday joys and sorrows and noticings and wonderings.
We’d work on a few strands at a time, every evening. And then…the garland would be done. We’d loop that last one all the way to the top, and stand back to say:
“This is the best tree we’ve ever had!”
I’m thinking of all those conversations now, all those growing up years…and all those little things that we did together once.