By David Palavi
In 1976, I was ten years old. That Christmas, my sister decided on making ornaments by affixing colored sequins onto Styrofoam pieces shaped as bells -- patriotic yet Christmassy. The dining room table was adorned with small piles of sequins, pinheads and ornament strings of every color I could imagine! Watching my sister pin or glue each sequin with absolute precision inspired me to try my own; however, my yuletide creation looked as if it came off a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. After one attempt, I spent the rest of the time painting my hot chocolate with swirls of candy cane red while keeping my sibling company.
For the coffee table my sister filled a tray with a white snow-like substance and placed a few Christmas figurines plus a couple of ornaments inside. I was drawn to the shabby chic ambience from the homemade ornaments on the lighted tree to the understated masterpiece on the coffee table. I was so gay before I knew what gay was.
Later that evening, I sat in the living room counting the number of wrapped boxes with my name under the tree while listening to a local radio station on the console stereo. Nearing bedtime but not ready for bed, I turned off all the lights except the tree and the music. Ah, cozy. Then Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” came on. I’ve heard it before but that night the lyrics resonated with me. As a kid, I was very shy and a loner at school and at home. Looking back, I may have been a little depressed at times. But for 2.41 minutes that Bicentennial December night everything aligned perfectly: Judy Garland’s lyrics that spoke to me, calmly lit room from the tree and a one-of-a kind coffee table display. Sounds simple but I know it was the spirit of Christmas filling my heart. God comforting me.
Christmas wouldn’t be complete without hearing this classic. I enjoy the different variations and artists, but Judy Garland’s version will always have a special place inside me. Through the decades, the handmade ornaments have disappeared for one reason or another but a sole survivor remains and in my possession. Missing a few sequins it may appear somewhat tattered, but nothing has diminished the warm little ping I feel when I bless each year’s Christmas tree with my little bell.