Over time, each one has claimed its own domain, so the wooden pine trees stand sentinel over the rocking horse on the breakfront. The partridge in its pear tree hangs from a potted pathos. The stuffed Santa Claus, made by my great grandmother and now missing one felt foot overlooks our mealtimes from the safety of the china cabinet so the cats can’t play with it. The Helper Elf we found face down in the mud on the street in front of our house during our first Christmas here sits on the arm of my “husband’s side” of the sofa. Little angels smile from the ceiling. A porcelain snowman holds out his stick arms to welcome you. The batteries are loaded into the singing cat trio that I spent a ridiculous $40 for several years ago, but from which we have derived about a million dollars worth of smiles.
I play favorites. One of them is an old man wearing a patched red cloak. He carries a staff with a bunny carved at the top. A sack is slung over his right shoulder. A tiny doll smiles next to a trumpet and a stuffed pony. The old man is in eternal mid-stride. He is going somewhere.
Keeping up with him is his faithful donkey. A thick blanket covers his back and a basket full of toys is strapped onto his side. In the basket is a grinning teddy bear, a gingerbread man, a Raggedy Ann doll, two toy soldiers dressed in blue and red and a tiny wheeled horse being ferried to unknown destinations. There is something about the benign expression in their faces that remind me of quiet blessings, unknown grace, and of good deeds done in the shadows. I can imagine them tramping through the dark night, never giving up, white snowflakes sticking to their eyelashes and warmed by hope, and with no other purpose than to give themselves away.
They are all old friends emerging like magic from dusty attic boxes, and by the time I am finished, the rooms are brighter, and so am I.