This is a picture of an ornament I made in First grade. I just got my calculator out because I’m bad at math. The ornament is exactly 33 years old. I don’t even feel old enough to be counting 3 decades, but math is sobering like that. Somewhere in my brain I’m still the little girl who crawled under the tree and slid into the corner gap where I could fit perfectly, my back up against the drafty floorboards.
I did nothing more than stare at the white twinkle lights and break off a needle or two so I could smell the tree better. Sometimes in those quiet moments I would bend the ornament hooks tight around the tree branches so that when I slid back there, the ornaments would give off a muted thud as I passed under them instead of falling off with a bright clink causing my mom to yell from the other room. I’d run my fingers through the piles of needles at the base creating imaginary roads and dunes. I’d stay there until my limbs grew numb from the cold or my father chased me out. In later years, I’d bring my small tape recorder with me and listen to my K-Tel cassette, the one with Abba’s The Winner Takes it All. (There is some awesome hair and blue eye shadow in this video.)
While I cannot say for certain, I must have been there almost every night the tree was up. This continued for as long as my little body let me slide back there. And when I couldn’t slide in anymore, I just took to sitting on the aqua couch. I guess looking at a Christmas tree is not unlike staring into a fire. There’s a certain peace that comes with the light, the quiet.