At first glance you wouldn’t guess that the ornament that says “God made the beautiful skies with stars like twinkling eyes” would rank high among my all time favorite ornaments. I don’t exactly go very far out of my way to keep the Christ in Christmas. But this ornament has something special inside.
A little Kelly, circa 1979, plastic dress up shoes, Raggedy Ann pajama top, Dorothy Hamill haircut. Behind that pantry door was the first and maybe second of what would be many marks indicating the heights of everyone in our family.
On the back it says “Love, The Speedys, Xmas 1979.”
The Speedys lived next door to us when we first moved in to the house I grew up in in 1979. They had two teenage boys and a huge dog. Sue Speedy liked to garden and she did so in a manner that made her appear as though she had just stepped out of an LL Bean catalogue. I remember her seeming so put together. Decked out in the best of early 80s fashion, whale turtlenecks and duck boots. There were snap dragons planted in the island between our yard and theirs and I can remember sticking my finger in and out of the snapdragon’s mouths while my mom chatted with Sue.
This ornament is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. The first, of course, being that it has a picture of me. And if you read here, you know I am wildly fascinated by old pictures of myself. Heh. But this year it took on an even greater degree of interest. Christmas, 1979. My mom was pregnant with my brother. Not very, as he was born prematurely six months later. But she was pregnant.
I remember the snapdragons that spring. I remember Sue Speedy’s duck boots. I remember my brother being very small. (Or at least I think I do. The line between photographs jogging your memory and real memories made up of smells and “brain movies” is fuzzy to me.) But I have no memory of my mother being pregnant. None. I remember the way her perfume smelled, the way she looked in this amazing water-colored silk dress. Her closet. But I don’t recall her being with child. Strange the things the mind omits.
I wonder how Emily will recall this pregnancy. If she will remember the nights I climbed in her bed. Because pregnancy induced insomnia had me pacing the house and her steady breathing and warm little body relaxes me. Last night as I slid in beside her she rolled over, brushed her hand across my face and said “Sleep, Mommy. You need to sleep before the baby gets here.”
Earlier in the evening I was overwhelmed. A sudden rush of “holy-shit-we-are-going-to-have-a-baby” consumed me and I sat down on the couch with a huge exhale, called MQD and said “I can’t make dinner. My hip hurts, I am tired, I just can’t.” Kindly, he said to just tell him what I’d like for him to pick up and he’d get it on his way home. Ever the pregnant woman I was not satisfied with this answer and complained that the pressure of having to make up my mind was making me feel like I was going to cry.
Em sat beside me on the couch. She put her arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. “Just let it out, Mom.” I smiled at her wordlessly. She held my hand. “We can get Mexican food? Yanno, Mexican soup.”
She’d effectively broken the spell of my bad mood. “Sweetheart, I don’t think we have ever had any Mexican soup. Do you mean Chinese food?”
“Yeah, Mexican soup is Chinese food.”
Of course it is.
And so I wonder if she will remember when we sat on the couch, side by side, because she no longer fits on my lap. And she offered me Mexican Chinese soup and held my hand. “We’re a perfect little family.” And my eyes teared up, worried that somehow I was destroying our perfect family of three with the new addition. She continued, “and it will be even more perfect when the baby comes.”