Waiting and waiting, and then …

Jane Elder

Editor’s note: To read more of retired Gainesville educator Jane Elder’s blog, “Ozark Road,” visit gainesvillemo.blogspot.com.


Monday I trimmed my Christmas tree. Yes, I did.

Andy hauled the boxes from the garage and stacked them on the floor. Each Christmas I vow to do this earlier. But I have to be in the mood. Waiting, and waiting. That is what I am very good at. The time has to be just right. No good putting up the tree when it’s nearing 60 degrees and sunny. Even though it lives in a box in my garage 11 months of the year, the weather has to be just so for me to put it up and decorate.

The first thing I came across was the picture of my brother Paul and me with Santa at Block and Kuhl Department Store in Peoria, Illinois. I was 6 and Paul was 8. Makes me smile to remember that moment. In the picture, Paul is grinning, but he is secretly planning his revenge for me getting closer to the man in the red suit. I think I got pinched on the arm for that infraction.

And then there were the treasured wooden ornaments I painted on Dec. 5, 1974. How do I remember the date? I was in labor with Nina and knew that they had to be done then or forgotten for another year. Babies do tend to interrupt normal daily routines and the best-laid plans for decorating the house for Christmas.

Under the tree are several cherished things from Nina’s namesake, Nina Dusenberry. She was Andy’s cousin twice removed but was an integral part of his family when he was growing up. These cherished mementoes were under her tree when she grew up on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. A little Chinese doll. A small stove. And a tiny teakettle. On the tree I hung ornaments she sent to Andy and his family when he was growing up. Each one is from a place she traveled to…Sweden, Portugal, Holland, Japan. There they were…a tribute to a woman who cared deeply for her family.

As I decorated the tree I remembered the story behind each ornament. Sweet memories. And when I can no longer trim this tree, they will be passed on to someone else. Perhaps a new story will be told about them. All a part of this season we love so well.     

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