“Mom, hurry up!” eleven-year-old Lizzie Frayne cried. “We’re all waiting for you so we can decorate the Christmas tree.” She ran into the kitchen looking for her mother, auburn shoulder-length ringlets bouncing as she ran. She skidded to a stop when she spotted her mother at the kitchen island preparing hot chocolate to go along with the tray of Christmas cookies that had already been set out.

“Slow down there,” Trixie Frayne said. “We have plenty of time to get the tree decorated. Did your dad and Matt get the lights on the tree?”

Lizzie hopped from one foot to the other, reminiscent of her Uncle Bob. She could barely contain her excitement. “They’re just about done. Daddy owes money to the potty mouth jar though. I heard him say a naughty word.”

The potty mouth jar sat on top of the refrigerator. When someone was caught saying a naughty word they had to pay a fine. The amount of the fine was based on the circumstances. Everyone in the family was held accountable and when the jar had twenty dollars in it the family would decide on a charity to give the money to. The jar got emptied about once a year and usually it was Trixie who paid the most fines. Her husband, Jim, rarely paid a fine.

Trixie halted her preparations and looked directly at her youngest daughter. “Uh-oh, was it really bad?” she asked.

“Well,” Lizzie responded. “After Daddy and Matt had all of the lights on the tree, he plugged it in. Only half of the tree lit up. Daddy said that next year we’re getting a pre-lit artificial tree. Does that mean we won’t get to go into Grandpa Matt’s preserve to pick out our tree next year? That’s the best part.”

Every year since they had built Ten Acres, they had gone out into the game preserve to cut down a Christmas tree. Over the years they had some interesting trees. The first year Trixie had insisted that the tree they had chosen was not too tall for the cathedral ceilings in their living room. She and Jim had argued all the way through the woods as they dragged the fourteen-foot pine tree through the woods. After struggling to get the tree into the house and straight in the stand she discovered it was about a foot too tall. Not wanting to take it out of the stand, Trixie grabbed a pair of garden shears, climbed the stepladder and lopped the top eighteen inches off of the tree. All the while Jim just stood back with a gleam in his eye but never said one word about it.

Another year they picked out a tree that had a huge gap in the branches. Trixie had shopped all over White Plains trying to find large Christmas ornaments that would fit nicely in it. There had been tall, skinny trees and too fat trees that seemed to take up half of the living room. Every year they were different and every year Trixie would exclaim that this tree was the best one yet and they all had their own personalities.

“Your father always says something like that; he’s just teasing. He likes to go out and cut the tree and decorate it with lights as much as the rest of us. We’d better get going or Jenny and Matt will have the tree all decorated before we get there.”

Trixie handed Lizzie the tray of cookies and then picked up the tray of hot chocolate as well. They headed to the den where the rest of their family had gathered.

The one thing that had changed since they had built Ten Acres was the location of the Christmas tree. Several years ago they decided to move the tree to their den where the family had created such warm memories over the years. At one time they had discussed having a second tree in the living room that was simply decorated with gold ornaments and red bows with white lights. As much as she loved the fresh cut tree, she hated vacuuming up the needles. Trixie quickly decided against that idea.

As she pushed open the door to the den, Jim came from around the tree and helped Trixie with the hot cocoa. After the tray was safely resting on the coffee table, he bent down and placed a kiss on her upturned lips.

“A little elf told me you will need to make a deposit in the potty mouth jar,” Trixie teased.

Jim nodded sheepishly. “The lights didn’t work because I didn’t have them completely plugged in together.”

“Come on, Mom,” Jenny said. “I wanna decorate the tree.”

Trixie went over to the CD player and put in one of her favorite Celtic Christmas albums to set the mood.

“Mom,” Matt complained. “Do we have to listen to that?”

Trixie chuckled. There was always some sort of debate over what music to listen to. She was just glad that it wasn’t like her brother Mart’s house. Mart liked Bing Crosby and Di liked Johnny Mathis and never the twain should meet. “You can choose the next CD,” she said.

Once everyone had sampled a cookie and hot cocoa, Jim pushed the first box of ornaments toward the tree. “We’d better start decorating or we won’t have the tree decorated by New Year’s.”

Carefully, Trixie took the cover off of the box. By tradition, the first ornament to go on the tree was one that Jim had given to Trixie the first Christmas after they were married.

“I can’t open this yet. It’s not even Christmas Eve,” Trixie half-heartedly protested.

“Yes, you can,” Jim replied. “It’s St. Nicholas Day.”

Trixie looked confused. “Isn’t it Pearl Harbor Day?”

Jim chuckled. “No,” he said patiently. “That’s tomorrow. You’ve never heard of St. Nick?”

“Well, sure,” Trixie said. “That’s just another name for Santa Claus. You know ‘Jolly Ole St. Nicholas’.” She then proceeded to sing three verses of the song off key. She still held the gift in her lap not sure if she should open it.

“When my parents, Win and Katje, were alive, we always celebrated St. Nicholas Day. My mom called it Sinterklaas. Before going to bed the night before I would put my shoe outside of the front door. Then in the night St. Nick and his helper Zwarte Piet would stop by. If you were good, you received an apple, peanuts and maybe a small gift.”

“What happened if you were bad?” Trixie asked mischievously.

“Well, I wouldn’t know but rumor has it you got a rock and a stick and a piece of coal,” Jim replied.

“Okay, so it’s St. Nicholas Day, but I didn’t leave my shoe outside. So I can’t open it up.” She was enjoying stringing Jim along. For reasons unknown to her, her new husband seemed anxious for her to open the small gift.

“Do you have to be so difficult?” he asked exasperatedly. “Just open the gift would you?”

Trixie uncharacteristically held the package in her hands and looked it over. She started to shake it when Jim said, “You might not want to shake that. I’m just saying.”

Finally she carefully opened the card that was attached to it. “Schoolgirl Shamus, I know this isn’t your first orchid. It won’t be your last but I hope it will last forever. Love, Jim,” it read.

Carefully, she removed the gold ribbon and bow from the package and then the metallic blue paper. When she removed the cover and pulled back the tissue paper she gasped. Inside was a hand-blown glass ornament in the shape of an orchid. Tears formed in her eyes as she remembered the first orchid Jim had given her.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, gently taking the delicate ornament out of the box. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Jim leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. “One of Diana’s art friends made it.”

“Come one, let’s put it on the tree,” she urged. Grabbing an ornament hook, she stood up and headed to the tree. Normally, she would hang the ornaments without much thought where they went. This time she stood and stared at the tree trying to find the perfect place for the beautiful ornament.

“Trixie,” Jim said. “If you don’t decide where you’re going to place this, we’ll be decorating this tree on New Year’s.”

“I have to find the perfect place for this ornament. We’re starting a new tradition. I want to make sure it’s perfectly perfect,” Trixie said. Finally, she decided to hang it near the top of the tree.

Trixie climbed the stepladder to place the treasured ornament on the tree. As was tradition, everyone cheered when she was done.

The family continued to decorate the Christmas tree. Each child had a special wooden box their father had made them that held their own ornaments. While Trixie tried to hang the rest of the ornaments, Jim oversaw the hanging of the children’s ornaments. These ornaments consisted of ones they had received as gifts. Every year Jim and Trixie bought each child a new one. They each had a different theme.

Matt had horn ornaments. They came in all shapes and sizes. Some of them were hand-blown glass, others were carved of wood. There were a few that if you blew on the end of them they made a noise. Matt took special care of his ornaments and always made sure they were hung in places that little hands couldn’t get at them. Trixie thought back to Matthew’s second Christmas.

“Maybe we shouldn’t put up a tree this year,” Jim said with a straight face. He had found Trixie in the kitchen pulling a pan of cut-out cookies out of the oven. “With Matt walking, or more like running, now I’m worried that he might try to climb the tree and tip it over.” Matt was sixteen months old.

“Is your middle name Scrooge, Mr. Frayne?” Trixie exclaimed. “Moms and Dad always had a tree and if Bobby never tipped it over, I’m sure our son won’t, especially since he seems to have inherited your coordination and not mine.” She noticed the twinkle in his eye and slapped him lightly on the shoulder. “Quit teasing me. We’ll just have to put unbreakable ornaments on the bottom.”

They had decorated the tree while Matt took his nap. By the time he woke up the tree was decorated. Both Trixie and Jim went to get him out of his crib and took him downstairs. His eyes lit up when he saw the lights on the tree and all of the decorations.

Jim held his son up to look at all of the pretty ornaments. He made sure that Matt did not touch any of them. Trixie brought over the last ornament to be placed on the tree. It was a metal horn that had a noisemaker in it so when you blew in it, the horn tooted. Trixie showed Matt how to make it work. Matt was so excited and after a few tries was able to make a sound. They hung the ornament high on the tree. Every time Matt came into living room during December, the first thing he wanted to do was blow that horn.

Lizzie’s ornaments were angels. Picking out her first ornament had been a difficult one. They were still recovering from Lizzie’s first major surgery and it had been an emotional rollercoaster. When Trixie had seen a whimsical angel ornament, she knew they would be the perfect ornaments for her daughter. Lizzie loved to play with her angels. She would sit on the floor and take all of them from her box and line them up. Trixie recalled one year when Lizzie was about five years old.

“Hi, my name is Allie Angel,” Lizzie said in a falsetto voice. She held one of her ornaments in her hand and moved it up and down while she talked, indicating that angel was the one that was speaking.

She picked up another angel and in a different voice said, “My name is Suzie Angel. Want to come over to my house to play?” Suzie Angel bounced up and down.

“Sure,” Allie Angel said. “Where do you live?”

Suzie Angel flew, with the help of Lizzie, to a branch on the tree. Lizzie hung both angels near each other. She proceeded to hang the rest of her angel ornaments in the same manner. Then, throughout the month of December the angels moved from branch to branch as they visited each other’s “homes”.

While Lizzie played with her angels, Jim helped Jenny with her star ornaments. He made sure she didn’t place all of the ornaments on one branch and lifted her up to place the more delicate ones higher on the branches. Lizzie had been the one to decide that stars would be the perfect ornaments for her.

“Twinkle, twinkle Christmas star,” four-and-a-half-year-old Lizzie sang to her new sister Jenny who was sitting in her mom’s lap. “How I wonder what you are?” Despite Lizzie’s somewhat off-key singing, Jenny seemed to enjoy her singing. She giggled and smiled as Lizzie put her face directly in front of Jenny’s as she sang. She had learned that version of the song in her Sunday school class. They had made stars with glitter on them and Lizzie was waving hers in front of Jenny’s face. Jenny tried to grab at it and Lizzie was thrilled that she wanted her star.

“I’m sorry, Jenny,” Lizzie told her adored little sister. “This is my star. Maybe Mommy can get you one of your own.”

“That’s a wonderful idea,” her mother said. “I’ve been trying to decide what kind of ornaments we should get Jenny. Will you help me pick one out?”

Lizzie beamed with the idea that she would get to do such an important job as to pick out Jenny’s first Christmas ornament.

In addition to their theme ornaments, the boxes also held any ornaments they had made growing up. While they had been gifts to their parents, they were stored in their creator’s box making it easier to remember who made what.

Matt had gotten most of his horns hung and had progressed to hanging up his homemade ornaments. Last year they had shaped ornaments out of clay, painted them and they were fired in a kiln. His ornament was round and flat. On it he had painstakingly painted a silhouette of a manger with the Christmas star shining down on it. As Matt placed the ornament on the tree, Trixie thought back to when Matt had given it to them last year.

Matt had been patiently waiting as his parents had opened the gifts his sisters had made at school. Fortunately, his father had passed on his patience gene and his mother had not. They had carefully and enthusiastically opened up a popsicle stick star that Jenny had made in preschool. The star had been painted white and then covered with glitter. It looked like an entire bottle of glitter had been used on the star. Unfortunately, Jenny hadn’t used a lot of glue on it and the carpeting around the tree had sparkled for most of the year.

Lizzie’s gift that year had been a wooden picture frame she had painted and then decorated. The teacher had taken a picture of Lizzie with a Santa hat on to put in the frame. After appropriately oohing and aahing over the girls’ two gifts, his parents finally opened the one he had made.

The present itself was a work of art. He had painstakingly padded the box with red tissue paper before placing the ornament in the box to ensure it wouldn’t break. He had carefully cut the shiny green wrapping paper making sure there was just the right amount of paper to cover the box but not make it bulky. He had worked for ten minutes to make the perfect silver bow. Finally he had neatly filled in the gift tag and tucked it under the bow.

“Matt, this is gorgeous,” Trixie said. “Did you make this in school?”

“No, Aunt Diana helped me. The students at Ten Acres made similar ones and sold them as a fund raiser,” Matt said.

“I didn’t know about the fundraiser,” Trixie commented.

“Well,” Matt said sheepishly. “I asked Dad not to say anything to you because you would have bought a dozen of them and I wanted mine to be special.”

One by one, Trixie hung the three ornaments from last year. When Matt had started school, she had tried to put all of the homemade ornaments up herself. As the years went by and the collection grew she encouraged the makers of the ornament to hang them.

When the homemade ornaments were hung they moved to other ornaments. Jenny pulled out an ornament that was the Baby Jesus wrapped in a tiny knit scarf. “Tell me about this one, Mommy. It’s my favorite story.”

Trixie had been in kindergarten. She had almost destroyed the outdoor Nativity scene at church after Christmas Eve services. She had decided that Baby Jesus had looked too cold in just his diaper so she wrapped him up with the light blue scarf that her Aunt Alicia had knit her. The incident had been relived several times the next day. Aunt Alicia had been tickled that her scarf had played such a big part in the event. Several days after Christmas, Trixie had received a package in the mail. Aunt Alicia had found a Baby Jesus ornament and had knit a light blue scarf to keep him warm.

The tree slowly got decorated. They took time to eat the cookies and sing along to the music on the CD player. It always amazed Trixie how many ornaments they had collected over the years. Every one of them seemed to have a story.

Trixie chuckled as she pulled out a grey button on a string of thread. It had been a gag gift from Honey a couple of years ago. They had both discovered J.D Robb’s In Death series and become very addicted to them. They always purchased the books the same day they were released. The practical sides of them would have had one person buy the book and then share with the other. Practicality did not work when it came to J.D. Robb. Even though both were fast readers, neither one could wait until the other was finished reading the book. Both Honey and Trixie were known to sit in their parked car in the driveway finishing the book before they went into the house. The grey button was a nod to Roarke who always carried it one from one of Eve’s suits in his pocket.

“Hey, Mom,” Matt asked. “What’s in this box? I haven’t seen these ornaments before.” He had a shoebox that was filled with a bunch of homemade ornaments.

“Oh, you’ve seen them,” Trixie said. “You just haven’t seen them on our tree. Those are the ornaments I made for Grandmoms and Grandpa when I was growing up. Last year when she took down her tree, Grandmoms decided it was time for these ornaments to come to our house.”

“Cool,” Lizzie said. “Can I hang them up?” She started to grab the box from her brother.

“Be careful,” Trixie said. “There’s plenty for all of you to hang on the tree.”

Matt pulled out a round wooden ornament. It was painted white with red and blue accents on it. In very large letters was written “Spirt of 76”. “What’s this one from?” he asked.

Trixie laughed. “Oh I made that when I was in kindergarten. It was 1975. Just about everything we did in school that year was tied into the Bicentennial of the United States.”

“Hurry up, Moms, and open mine next,” five-year-old Trixie said. “You’re just going to love it.”

Moms took the small box that was wrapped haphazardly in red paper with a blue bow on it. She slowly lifted the ornament out of its box and said, “Why, it’s beautiful!”

Brian looked at the ornament and commented how nice her handwriting was. Then Mart looked at it. “Hey, you’ve got spirit misspelled.”

“Do not,” Trixie said stubbornly. “Mrs. Kincaid wrote the words on the blackboard and I copied them perfectly.”

“Well, you must need glasses then because you spelled it wrong,” Mart insisted.

“I did not spell it wrong,” Trixie insisted again. Then she looked at Brian and asked, “Did I?” She knew he would tell her the truth.

Brian got a pained look in his eyes and then looked to his dad for guidance.

“Honey,” her father started. “I’m afraid Mart is right.”

Tears began to well in Trixie’s eyes. “I wanted it to be perfect,” she sniffed.

“Oh, it is,” Moms said, “because you made it. I bet I’m the only person who has a Spirt of 76 ornament in the whole wide world. How special is that?”

Trixie wiped her eyes and then helped her mother hang the ornament on the tree.

“Hey, Dad,” Matt asked, “Where are the ornaments that you made when you were growing up?”

Trixie glanced over to her husband and saw the pain flash in his eyes before he solemnly said, “I don’t know what happened to them. You remember that Grandpa Matt and Grandma Maddie adopted me when I was a teenager.” Trixie and Jim had shared with the kids his past over the years. They had decided that nothing would be gained by telling them how his stepfather had abused him. Someday he might but now was not the time. “After my first parents died, things weren’t really that great. Over the years the ornaments must have been thrown out.”

“So you don’t have any ornaments from when you were little,” Lizzie asked incredulously.

“No, but I do remember decorating the tree. Dad and I would go out and cut down the tree while Mom stayed at home and baked Christmas cookies. Decorating the tree was a big event.”

“Win,” Katje Frayne said. “The tree is crooked. It’s going to tip over if you leave it that way.”

“Just a minute, honey,” Win Frayne said. “I’m not quite done. Jimmy, would you please crawl under the tree and loosen the screws in the stand?”

Seven-year-old Jimmy was glad to help with such an important job. He took it seriously and followed his father’s directions as he adjusted the tree.

“That’s perfect,” Katje said. “Now we need to get the lights on the tree.”

They got all of the lights on and much to everyone’s surprise they all lit up when they were plugged in. There were old hand-blown ornament, and ones that Jimmy had made in school. The top of the tree had a beautiful star that Katje had inherited from her grandmother. After all of the ornaments had been hung, Win laid a fire in the fireplace and Katje brought out the corn popper. They made several batches of popcorn and then spent the rest of the evening stringing garlands of popcorn and cranberries.

“What about the pickle?” Jimmy asked.

“You know the pickle doesn’t get put on until Christmas Eve.”

“Tell me about the pickle,” Lizzie insisted, sitting down on the sofa next to her dad.

“Well, I think it’s actually a German tradition. On Christmas Eve a pickle was hidden on the tree. The first person that found the pickle would get an extra present. It usually was a peppermint stick or some chocolate.”

“That sounds like fun,” Matt said. “We should try to find one.”

“I want to string popcorn and cranberries,” said Jenny. “I bet it was really pretty.”

“Well, we don’t have time tonight. We need to put the angel on the top of the tree and then it will be decorated for the year,” Trixie said.

As was the tradition, Jim lifted Jenny up in the air to place the angel on top of the tree. It had been given to Jim and Trixie as a wedding gift from Mrs. Vanderpoel. It had graced Mrs. V’s tree for almost fifty years before she had given it to them. She had taken such good care of it that it looked like it had never been used.

When they had finished with the decorating they finished the evening singing "Oh Christmas Tree."

A couple of weeks later, Jim had to work late at the school. He was busy making sure all of the kids that lived there would have a happy and blessed Christmas as well. Trixie had been waiting for an evening without Jim.

“Come on, kids,” she said. “We have a project that needs to be done before your dad gets back.”

Lizzie and Jenny both hopped from one foot to the other. They always loved doing things to surprise their dad. “What are we going to do?”

“Well, we don’t have time to build a fire in the fireplace and pop the corn over it, but I thought it would be fun to string some cranberry and popcorn garlands.”

“Yeah,” cheered the kids as the followed their mother into the kitchen.

“I’ve got the popcorn all popped. I made some extra when we made popcorn balls last week,” Trixie explained. “There’re cranberries in the refrigerator.”

The four of them spent the next hour stringing the garland. It took longer than they had anticipated and Jenny and Lizzie started to get bored. Trixie led them in a Christmas Carol sing-a-long.

“Can we sing, "Silent Night"?” Jenny asked. “That’s my favorite song.” She had eaten more popcorn than had strung.

Trixie shook her head. “You know the rule. Your dad insists that you can’t sing that song until Christmas Eve.”

“Please,” Lizzie begged. “Daddy wouldn’t have to know.”

“Dad would know,” Matt said, “because you would tell him. You can’t keep a secret.”

They heard a car pull into the driveway. “That’s your dad,” Trixie said. “Let’s get this all picked up and hidden. We’ll wait until Christmas Eve to hang the garland. Do I have everyone’s promise that you won’t let Dad know about this?”

Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

Christmas Eve Day was spent up at the school with the annual Christmas Eve Party. The tradition had been set early on with the school. All of the kids and their house parents got together. Each year the students did extra jobs around the school to earn money for gifts for several needy families in Sleepyside. They spent Christmas Eve wrapping the presents. Mart and Diana then made sure they were delivered to the families that evening. They also played games and had a big meal. The next day each house would have its own tradition. Some opened gifts on Christmas Eve. Others opened them on Christmas Day. Some actually traveled to their house parents’ relatives.

When they headed up to the school, Trixie remembered she had to get some food ready for their Christmas get-together with her parents the next day. She sent Jim and the kids up to the school and promised to be up there in a few minutes.

As soon as they were out of the house, Trixie pulled the popcorn and cranberry garlands out of their hiding place and placed them on the tree. Then she went up to her bedroom and pulled a small jar out of her lingerie drawer. She opened the jar and pulled out a porcelain pickle ornament. With a twinkle in her eye, she went down and hid the pickle on the tree. She hid it high enough so that hopefully Jim would be the one to find it. When she was done she headed up to the school.

The party had been a huge success. With all of the students pitching in to clean up, the Fraynes were home by seven thirty. That would give them plenty of time to enjoy some family time before getting ready for Midnight Mass.

“Can’t we please open one present?” Lizzie begged. “I’ll just die if we don’t get to open something tonight.”

Jim chuckled. “That won’t work on your mother. She spent half of her teenage years dying about one thing or another.”

“We’ve got some time before we have to get dressed for church,” Trixie said. “Let’s go into the den and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” There were a few groans from the kids but they reluctantly headed toward the den.

When they opened the door, there was a group gasp. “Mommy,” Jenny said, “it looks great.”

Jim placed an arm around Trixie’s shoulder and pulled her close. “It’s beautiful,” he said in a husky voice. “When did you find time do this?”

“Oh, several elves helped me one day when you had to work late,” Trixie said.

“In the words of my sister, it’s perfectly perfect. I still can’t believe you did it.”

Jenny tugged on her dad’s arm. “Do you really like it?” she asked.

“More than you know,” he replied.

“Well, I have one more surprise for you,” Trixie said. “Even the kids don’t know about this.”

“What is it?” Lizzie asked.

“Well, I hid a pickle in the tree,” she said.

Lizzie, Jenny and Matt immediately got closer to the tree to try and find the elusive pickle. Jim stayed next to Trixie his arm still around her shoulder.

“Aren’t you going to look for the pickle?” Trixie asked.

“No,” he said. “The kids will have fun looking for it.”

For several minutes the kids looked for the pickle but couldn’t find it. “Are you sure you hid it?” Matt asked.

“Yes, I’m sure,” Trixie replied. “Maybe your dad should see if he can find it. He’s the one who’s the expert at it.”

Jim headed toward the tree. The longer the kids had looked, the more excited he had been remembering the wonderful Christmases of his youth. He looked around and within a minute found the pickle.

The kids were all excited to see the pickle. Jenny was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a real pickle.

“So what’s my prize?” Jim asked.

“How about a kiss?” Trixie replied as she reached up and placed one on his lips.

“Well, I suppose that would be good enough,” he said a little disappointed, “but I can usually get one of those anytime.”

“In that case,” she said, “how about this?” She gave Jim a gift bag.

“Do I have to wait until tomorrow to open it?” Jim said, trying to mimic Trixie with her impatience. The prize for him had been that his family had tried to recreate some holiday memories of his past.

“It’s up to you, but I think Lizzie’s going to die again if you don’t open it now,” Trixie teased.

“Well, then I’d better open it,” he said. He reached in and there were four large Hershey’s chocolate bars and four large peppermint sticks. He immediately understood what Trixie had done and shared his present with his kids.

Jim looked at his watch and said. “It’s almost time to get ready for church.”

“Can we please sing Silent Night first?” Jenny asked. “I’ve been waiting forever.”

“I think we can,” he said. As had been their tradition, they stood in front of the tree as a family and began to sing. The first verse was always sung in German as it had been originally written in that language. Then it was sung in English.

As the last notes of the song were sung Jim and Trixie marveled at how blessed they were.


Author Notes

Merry Christmas, Cathyoma. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was an honor to write it for you.

This story takes place after Because Everyone Deserves a Lifetime in my Grass Isn't Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence Universe but if you're not caught up on that universe there are now spoilers. I just thought it would be fun to go back and put some meet to some of these ornaments.

We used to have Potty Mouth jars in high school.  I thought it would be something Trixie and Jim would use at home.

Cathy mentioned that she liked to listen to and sing Christmas Carols but she didn't weigh in on the Bing Crosby/Johnny Mathis debate. The one thing she did say was that they never sang Silent Night until Christmas Eve. Her mother being from Germany, they always sang the first verse in German and then sang it in English. Jim and Trixie somehow heard about this tradition and decided it was a good one.

My family always celebrated St. Nicholas Day. I always seem to miss it by a day with my kids and they never let me live it down.

When my kids were little I tried to buy them each an ornament every year. They had a theme but like many things as life got crazier it fell by the wayside. Jim on the other hand would make sure that each child had a new ornament to hang on the tree on Christmas Day.

Many of the ornaments described were ones that Cathy or her brother made. Her brother did misspell Spirit on an ornament. I hope if he every reads this he doesn't kill Cathy for revealing the family secret.

You might wonder why I used 1975 instead of 1976 as the year Trixie made that ornament.If you're not old enough to remember, the celebration of the Bi-Centennial of the United States really took place for most of the year leading up to the actual date. By December 1976 many people were burnt out on the whole idea.

The ornament of Baby Jesus wrapped in the knit scarf is a nod to the giftfic I wrote last year, What Child is This?

And of course I had to reference the In Death Series by J.D. Robb.I asked Cathy if Roarke had ever given Eve something similar to Jim giving Trixie the silver bracelet. She said he carried the grey button.

The hiding of the pickle is a German tradition.One day Cathy, Jenn, MaryN and, I think, Ronda were chatting and the tradition came up. None of them had heard about the tradition.I just had to include that in the story.

Word Count, 5,290

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