My secret ingredient to the holidays is not a special spice, or colourful cookie, or even a delightful delicacy--it is a tradition steeped in memory. Here is my tiny tale:
I remember it like it was yesterday. I eagerly dove into the depths of the carefully wrapped Christmas decorations to find the golden fragile walnut that said Christmas to me. Proudly, I would hang it on the tree, near the top, front and centre. It is slightly larger than miniscule, but its shell holds great tradition. It was on every one of my childhood Christmas trees, it was on all the Christmas trees my mother put up when I left home, and it is the one thing I made sure I got from all of my parents’ Christmas treasures.
I was surprised and relieved when I found that none of my siblings had imbued this tiny prize that I so coveted with the same sentiments that I did. I did not question it—I was afraid if I explained its significance then it would take on meaning that they had forgotten and then there would be a challenge. I don’t know why I thought that—my brothers and sister are generous souls—there would have been no problem.
I wish that I could remember where the gilded walnut came from, but I like to think that before I made it on the scene, it was one of the first decorations my parents put on their first tree when they were married in 1944. That first Christmas tree after they were married was cut down by my Grandpa Geauvreau specifically for my eighteen year old mom, who was pregnant with my oldest brother. My parents lived with my father’s parents when they first married, and Grandpa made sure my mom had a Christmas tree. It was strangely not a tradition my grandparents followed—but grandpa knew it was important to his son’s barely out of childhood wife. My mother told that story fondly many, many times, and it is a part of our family lore.
I was crushed when a couple of years ago my beautiful but delicate walnut hit the floor. It broke, but luckily not into tiny pieces, and most of it is still intact. Now when I hang it front and centre near the top of the tree, I position it so the undamaged side faces out. The tradition has not been broken, just adjusted a little—something all traditions deal with in order to endure.