A Beloved Christmas Ornament

By , December 10, 2009

To me, one of the chief joys of Christmas time is the opening of the Christmas decoration boxes. The parade of nostalgia that issues forth in many ways defines the bittersweetness of the season. Each ornament carries with it so many associations.

One of my favorite ornaments never even makes it onto the tree. It was designed to be used; if it were hung on a bough, the tree would be disturbed too often.

My brother David and his wife Anke made it years ago. Their homemade ornaments are among our most precious, and this one may top them all.

I suppose the technical term for this ornament is a shadow box. It’s a toilet paper tube, tastefully disguised with wrapping paper. One end is closed by a small picture, the other by a peephole. By looking through the peephole one can see the picture inside.

Dave drew Zoon, one of their former homebuilt sailboats. Sitting in the cockpit, you can see David, Anke, their dog Scuppers, and a large sack of toys. I think Santa Claus sits in the cockpit with them as well, but Michelle and Aly think it’s just Dave and Anke. I’ll have to ask Dave about it, but by now, he may not even remember anymore.shadowbox01


Dave and Anke are still with us, thank goodness, but we haven’t seen them in two years. Scuppers passed away several years ago. Zoon has sold to a new owner, and has been sadly neglected, but our happy memories of sailing aboard her live on.

It’s difficult to express the delight I take in this ornament, neither can I adequately describe the comfort and joy it’s given me through the years. When I worked in an office, I used to keep it at work through the Christmas season. When the day dragged, or grew grim, I’d peep through the heart-shaped aperture and enjoy thinking of my loved ones for a moment.

These days I’m far too happy to need the comfort, but the joy remains. It’s not so easy to see the view anymore. I now need reading glasses to see it, alas; the ornament and I have grown old together.

It’s remarkable how much this simple ornament, made out of paper and an empty toilet paper roll, has come to mean to my family and me. It cost so little, yet signifies so much. Never, ever, underestimate the power of a homemade gift!

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