He showed it to me a bit shyly and, uncharacteristically, sheepish hidden in his usual bravado. It sat on the dining room table. He said, "It's for you. I know you like your Aunt Katherine's so I made one for you. It's not the same as hers; I couldn't figure a way to put the snow on it like hers." That was all. He and his crutches walked away.
Back in the 70's, the first wave of interest in painting and fabricating green-ware had become vogue. Aunt Fran was interested for awhile, but really, it was Dad who needed her to drive him to the shop. Long after she quit participating, she drove The King and waited while he created. She was like that- she could be so angry and cutting but when it came to her Little Brother, she'd suck it up and accommodate him.
I was busy with college and my budding social life, so I can't say I really know how often he went to paint his odd treasures. I remember there were others, a bit tacky as far as I was concerned, but this is the only piece that has survived.
It is like the grandfather clock he built because he decided I'd want one. A herculean effort for a man who couldn't bend or move. Though I never asked for one, the clock stands regally in my entrance hall all these years later and each week when I wind it, I think of Daddy. Maybe these creations were Jimmy's way of guaranteeing he'd always continue in some way; I'm not sure what went on in his mind when he decided I 'needed' something.
The garish little tree sat there winking at me with its plastic 'lights' glowing merrily and, at 19, I remember puzzling, "Wonder why he thought I'd want one of these? I never thought anything about Kat's tree!" I was gracious enough to say, "King, thanks a lot! It's really cool. I don't care that it isn't like Katherine's. "
We sat it in the bay window every Christmas. Every year at the end of the holidays, it would be my job to pack it up safely and make sure it didn't get broken. He had paid extra for this one; it has a music box that used to play Silent Night. That's long since stopped working.
As the years have rolled along, I note that the little tree has taken on deep significance. It's one of the things I can't forgo during the decorating. Even now that my desire to decorate the house from stem to stern has ebbed, some years not wanting to really decorate at all, this wee tree still makes the cut.
I wait for the miracle of Dad letting me know he still remembers me, for each year out of the blue, even though the music box is defunct, a few notes will warble out and stop just as suddenly. It always makes me smile, tear up, and I whisper, "I love you too, King."
Often, when I look at the tree, my focus goes soft and the lights become fuzzy as the images of my father grow more acute and clear. It's one of the sacred parts of the Season, this ability to easily conjure the faces of those we have loved and who have moved on. To see them so clearly and richly in a small tacky treasure that has made its way with you over the years.
May you have many moments of remembering and recalling. May they leave you with a smile and the realization that, while it is sad to be without them, you are so richly happy to have had them in your life.
May you have a hushed few moments of grace in this frenzied holiday season. A few minutes when your focus grows soft and distant as you behold the loved festive bit and trinket. Watch the lights and visit with a treasure from your past.
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Jimmy Dietor's Daughter
9 hours ago