I bought a Christmas tree this weekend. Quite a change from last year's, huh? The biggest difference, not only from that tree but also from any other I've had in my life: I put tinsel on it.
I grew up in a non-tinsel family. There seemed to be an unspoken understanding that tinsel was tacky. But I always secretly liked it -- the kind that drapes on the branches in thin, wispy strands. (Note that I still can't help drawing a distinction between the acceptable kind and the . . . other kind.)
Once, I came across a photo of my parents' first Christmas trees in the 1950s, before they had kids; there was the same "icicle"-style tinsel on it that I have now. It was sort of like discovering that one of them had had an illegitimate child.
Perhaps -- as I've often realized over the years in other matters -- the strictures, prejudices, or prohibitions that I'd imagined never actually existed at all. Maybe all I ever needed to do was simply utter the word: "tinsel." And it would be mine.
I now own the home that on December 19 was still only a longing. I didn't know then that I'd see it for the first time ten days later -- and make an offer on it two days after that, New Year's Eve.
And that other feeling that was awakened as I listened to Raul Malo's voice a year ago? I tucked it away for safekeeping, like a crinkly letter from the past, glad to know it wasn't lost anymore but wary of taking it out of its drawer again, as if it would crumble in my hands, or blow away with a draft.
It turns out it may not be an old letter after all but the start of a story.