It started the day after Thanksgiving. The Christmas decorating begins at our home. The boxes come out of the garage and into the house.

Our ever-growing Santa collection is unpacked. Other boxes hold the holiday dishes, or outside lights, and all the tree trimming ornaments. Out they come. It takes several days to Christmas at our house indoors-and out. And yet it doesn’t seem like a chore. 


There’s peace and comfort in Christmas decorating.

It’s a season of the year that I deeply love. It’s a memory glue that makes my childhood, teen, young adult, middle age, and now senior years, stick together. 

 Santa always stops by.




My Hank and I are fortunate to have a safe, warm, spacious home in which to display a holiday accumulation of probably 60 years. Most of the ornaments and decorations, photos and wall hangings are memories. My memories from my early teaching career, photographs that became enlarged murals. Crafts that Hank and I have gifted each other from our travels, or have been given by family and friends. 

As we decorated this year there was a running dialogue about the memories attached to many of them. 

“Oh remember, this was our first Christmas. We look so young.” 

“This is from that great Christmas shop in Santa Fe.” 




“This ornament is from my childhood – small, chipped, with a crooked hook – well-loved like the velveteen rabbit.” 

We tended to do more silent gazing than talking this year. Some afternoons during decorating the only sound was Elvis’s CD of Blue Christmas or Luther Vandross Christmas. 

Several nights after dinner, Hank called to me from the living room. “Come. Sit with me. Look at the tree.” Sometimes it was pure silence which delivered relaxation. From those late November days until the Epiphany on January 6 the gazing at the tree in silence was a comforting part of our holiday celebration.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.