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This Little Christmas Tree of Mine. I'm Gonna Let it Shine.

I have a ceramic Christmas tree in my bedroom. It's from the 70's, or maybe even earlier, and has some black electrical tape holding the base together. It's missing a few of the lights and certainly has years of dirt, or as I'd like to call it, patina, giving it the perfect amount of character. I used to keep the tree in bubble wrap in the basement, only to take out once a year to place in the bay window in the living room. I love how Christmas decorations make the house feel and the memories some tinsel and lights can evoke. Perhaps it is the warm feeling the tree gave me, or my connection to its previous owner that prevented me from packing it away last year.

Every night, at least those that I don't fall asleep on the couch,I turn off the lights, sit in my bed, and look at the tree and the way, when lit-up, it makes the bedroom glow. Tiny flecks of red and yellow and green sparkle on the walls and ceiling and it makes the room feel magical. Since I was a kid, I get anxiety at night. After a day of being busy, my mind races during what is to be the moments of rest and calm at the end of day. But looking at this tree comforts and calms me. This tree belonged to my grandmother and my mom gave it to me when my Gram died.

I grew up a stone's throw from my grandmother and spent just about every morning and evening at her house. During most of my childhood, I could be found catching the bus, or coloring amidst a group of adults chain smoking and drinking coffee, or waking up at 6 am on a Saturday to watch Bob Ross at Gram's house. My whole childhood has always been a giant memory of her and it always will be.

Gram was important to everybody, old and young, family or not. She made an impact on everyone around her. This year, during Christmas, Mom and I pulled out my great Aunt Peggy's journals to read. Page after page referenced my grandmother and spending time at her house. It was the hub for so many of us. On any given morning, or evening, you could go there and find at least 2 or 3 people congregated around her kitchen table and a couple kids (and goats, chickens, ducks) running around outside.

Whenever I was mad at my mom, I went to Gram's house. If I was hungry, I went to Gram's house. If I needed a couple of bucks for a candy bar, I went to Gram's house.I loved stopping by there and playing with all of her stuff. It seemed like I always spotted a new picture or nick nack on a book shelf or window sill. Plus, there was always somebody there to talk to. Usually, they weren't even talking to me, or listening to me when I talked (and talked and talked) but I liked being in the presence of other people. This was the way I grew up and I knew no other way.

I'm lonely in New York and Andy doesn't understand. I have some really wonderful friends here and they feel like family to me. We are so lucky to have met such a group of kind and amazing people. But, I'm envious when some of them tell me about their plans for Sunday dinner with their families or an impromptu shopping trip with their moms. Sometimes, I wish I could just walk out the door to my house and up the street to a house full of people arguing, eating and drinking coffee. I wish that I could just walk into that house and someone would grab me a chair and start arguing with me like I'd been there for the last hour. I wish I could stay there really late and when I leave say, "Good night! See you in the morning!"

Andy, Mr. Empathetic, reminds me that's never going to happen. Time isn't going to bring back my grandmother or make me a kid again. We live in New York now and we've made this our home. And, I'll always have my ceramic tree to light the path to my crazy and wonderful family memories.

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