Memories and Musings: Christmas tree diary

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, December 24, 2019

By Gene Gallelli

It isn’t written down anywhere . . . yet. There are no photographs or internet videos of the events — there is, however, an old 78 rpm record of my dad crooning, and one of nine-year-old me singing, “You’ve got to Accentuate the Positive” in a then-soprano voice that had once opened a school assembly with a patriotic song. But, as I gaze at our beautiful Christmas tree, I realize that each hanging ornament is an artifact, part of a visual diary chronicling tiny pieces of my life.

First catching my eye is the painted metal wreath with “1944” printed in the center, the year my bride was born. That magic event gave me a diminutive, beautiful, ribbon-adorned package containing fifty-four of the happiest, most love-filled years of my life. The endless special memories it evokes are gifts that will keep on giving, forever.

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The dangling pink, clear glass ball with four painted horizontal stripes is not only memory-laden but, also, a priceless historic WWII relic. It now hangs proudly on the tree by a green metal hanger; the original “paper” hanger that was used because of the scarcity of metal during the war is safely nestled within the ornament. Long ago it was touched by my mom and dad as the trees took shape in the living rooms of my childhood — again this year I felt them near as I held it in my hand. It now has been touched by my children and grandchildren and, hopefully, will not stop there, or ever.

Several wooden ornaments — the Twelve Days of Christmas — skillfully carved and painted by a loved relative — proudly occupy many top-to-bottom spaces on this year’s tree. Sadly, the Piper lost an arm from some rough play several years ago when the grandchildren were very young. Sadly, the series ended with “ten maids a-milking” when the sculptor crossed the Rainbow Bridge to carve bigger and more important images.

Lost but not forgotten are the many paper, clay and sparkle ornaments, made in elementary school by our daughters that occupied center stage on the sparkling spruces for many years. Missing, too, are the needle-and-thread popcorn garlands and the green-and-red crepe paper chains with each ring joined together with pasty glue made from flour and water. Kids love to eat the stuff!

Scanning the tiered branches of our Christmas tree — its pointy leaves aglow with tiny points of red, yellow, green and blue — is like turning the handwritten pages of a love-filled family diary . . . a quiet journey to Christmas Past on a Silent Night.

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.