December 19, 2011
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this is just one of many ornaments that my mother made over the years – this particular one has mini photos of me from a newborn to 3 years old and she gave is as a gift to my grandmother in 1973. christmas was always a huge deal in my family – both my mom and grandmother were decorating and entertaining divas. even though my mom and I spent christmas down here on the shore with my grandparents, our house in syracuse was still fully decorated complete with my mom’s ‘theme trees” - smaller trees were in practically every room. there was the pewter tree that had hand painted pewter ornaments that she had collected. there was the present tree which had miniature gifts that she had made by hand of all shapes, colors and sizes and the gold tree full of hand blown glass ornaments with bursts of gold and copper. all family ornaments, like this one were always kept in snow hill for the ‘big tree’. since my mother’s passing, I have inherited all of the ornaments collected over 4 generations. well this year I decided I was far too busy for a tree. I am not the martha stewart of holidays like the other women in my family, but I usually give it my best attempt. not this year – I had sessions to shoot, orders to fill and editing to finish. and I thought really, would it matter?? my husband didn’t even try to talk me out of it because he kinda knows when my mind is made up. so I proceeded with life as usual which included photographing a small wedding this past saturday. considering I was done at 2:00, I made the mistake of doing some shopping in annapolis. naturally crowds were hideous and the stores were loud, even over the ipod I attempted to drown it all out with. I stopped and sat down and witnessed families laughing and smiling, enjoying even the craziness of holiday gift buying. and if I’m honest, at that moment I hated each and every one of them. as I drove home I couldn’t shake this foul mood. one minute inside the doors of my house and roland knew something was up and as I settled into the couch I basically just lost it. the fact that I don’t have any immediate family anymore doesn’t hit me often, but when it does it’s rough. as I sniffled and hiccuped my way through the reason for my blues, he just held my hand and let me talk. sampson, the more emotional of our 2 dogs, was determined to get all 120 pounds of himself on my lap and lick away my tears. our other pup booker rested his head on roland’s lap looking up at me with his big kind eyes. I can only speak for myself, but more times than not it takes a mini-meltdown for me to have a breakthrough and as I calmed down I realized that I had more love on that couch than a lot of people ever have. I knew that I although I don’t have a traditional family anymore that I have such a big and beautiful group of lifelong friends who held me up during the loss of my parents. I realized just how lucky and blessed I am to have what I do and even though it’s okay to be sad, there are folks out there that have suffered far worse. needless to say the next morning after breakfast, roland and I were in the truck headed to the tree farm. as we debated the benefits of one tree over another, occasional snowflakes started to fall which surprised us both. I looked up, let one fall on my face and considered it a christmas blessing from those who have gone. I think it was also a clear message from mom and gram basically saying “it’s about time you got a tree!”  :) I wish all of you the happiest of holidays full of love, laughter and dog kisses!

  • Tears are rolling down my face! What a beautiful blog Raye.

  • Raye – This is the most beautiful story…..made me cry too ! I didn’t know your mom, but your gram was in charge of “decorating” Bates Church (where I grew up and have now returned) until she physically became unable to do so. Every holiday I find myself remembering how beautiful the sancturary was after Mrs. Gladding had finished her handywork. Other times, I’ve looked at the altar and thought wow, Mrs. Gladding would be appalled ! I was so touched by the beauty of her work that one year at Thanksgiving, I “recreated” a cornacopia “display” I had seen her do. I was so proud of myself ! Now that we are attending at Bates once again, I am hoping to be able to again attempt to recreate that Thanksgiving display next year. And who knows, now that my kids are all grown up, I may just attempt a Christmas display next year too. You could tell by each display she created that it was prepared with love. My family teases me because all the ornaments on our tree are hand made or have special significance to me – every year as I place them on the tree I have to share the story behind each one – so needless to say, I could relate to your story. Have a Merry Christmas – and I know your gram is relieved that you got the tree !