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.