Next week I am supposed to bring a Christmas ornament to a party and tell the story of the ornament and why it’s special to me. It’s not really my thing, maybe because my grade school never had show and tell, so I hadn’t planned on doing it. Now I can’t. Too many to choose from!

Today I got a gift from my sister (who definitely sends the best presents ever) with instructions to open it right away. Inside the box were five small prettily wrapped gifts — Christmas ornaments for my first tree and my first Christmas in my first house.

Each ornament illustrated a facet of my life.

A nod to my new house, of course.

Books, definitely.

My car, naturally.

A dragon because we all need a dragon to guard and protect.

And . . . Pat in the Hat. (Front and back)

I’m not sure I ever mentioned how I became Pat in the Hat. I’ve always been a big walker, but it wasn’t until my middle years that I wised up and started to wear a hat to protect me from the sun. Back then, the hats I wore weren’t anything special — ball caps or straw hats, anything cheap and accessible.

Later, when I lived with my father, my sister would send the two of us ornately wrapped gifts with gorgeous bows. My father tore off the wrappings, and tossed them away, but I rescued the bows. They were simply too nice to throw away. I didn’t really have any use for those ribbons, but one day, when I came in from a walk, I tossed my hat on table where I’d put the most recent offering, and something clicked. I wrapped the ribbon around the hat, and was thrilled with the festivity of it all.

Not too long afterward, I noticed that the ribbon was gone, and it devastated me that I couldn’t find it. This was shortly after Jeff had died, when any loss, no matter how insignificant, set me on a downward spiral of grief. Although I retraced my steps several times, I never found that bow. Luckily, I had another one packed away. This time, I made sure to tack my makeshift hatband to the hat to keep from losing another ribbon. I still have a stash of ribbons from my sister, as well as a few things I bought to decorate whatever hat I happened to have.

Now, delightfully, not only is she providing decorations for my hat, but also my tree — my dad’s tree, actually, and come to think of it, my sister bought it for him.

For a person who isn’t that fond of show and tell, I sure do a lot of here! Maybe that’s why I don’t need to do it in person.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

8 Responses to “Ornaments!”

  1. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    How wonderful to have such meaningful new ornaments to help celebrate your first Christmas in your new home! Our trees have always been a mishmash of decorations collected through the years. Some were gifts, some made by our children, some purchased to try and create a colour scheme. No matter what though, every year there is a handful of special ornaments amidst the others — ones handed down from our parents’ and grandparents’ trees. Your post inspires me to go write a long overdue blog post of my own, about those ornaments, one in particular that’s been on every tree since my very first Christmas. Today would be an especially good day as it would be the birthday of my mother-in-law (who’s been gone now for fifty years).

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It is interesting how ornaments represent so much. A friend who was a world traveler always bought a small souvenir to put on her tree. What a great place for memories of all kinds. Happy birthday to your mother-in-law.

  2. Suzi Tench Says:

    What lovely, thoughtful gifts xxx

  3. Coco Ihle Says:

    How wonderful your sister was so thoughtful to send you these ornaments that mean so much. In the same vein, I’d like to send you one of my virtual ornaments that has love, gratefulness, patience, forgiveness, understanding, kindness, happiness, hope and assurance in it for your first house gift this Christmas. Have an absolutely Merry one!!!!!

  4. Judy Galyon Says:

    Those ornaments are really cool! Especially if your sister made them!!! If I had to choose, I would pick the Pat in the hat for your show & tell!! Your sister is very creative.

  5. SheilaDeeth Says:

    So nice to know the hat story. And what lovely ornaments.. They are surely favorites already with the story ready to tell.

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