The Christmas ornaments from her short 23 years hung on her parents’ tree, telling stories of her most memorable life moments and achievements. Moments that were special to her. Moments that molded her into the person she is today. Moments that made her, her mom, and her dad proud. Moments that would never be forgotten and moments that would always be held close to her heart. They weren’t just Christmas ornaments hanging on the branches, but they were Marlee’s life. Everything that made her her.
There was her piano ornament from year 10. She had taken lessons for three years and was the only sibling out of the three that had stuck with it for so long. Her mom bought it for her that year to commemorate her dedication and to show her how proud of her she was that she had put so much time and effort into something. She wasn’t that good at playing the piano. She never stole the show at any of her recitals, but she was proud that she could play the Indian Melody without looking at the sheet of music. She stopped playing piano after another year, but she always remembered that Indian Melody and she always was so proud of herself every time she pulled that bear, with the red bow adorning it’s right ear playing a black grand piano, out of the box to hang on the front of the tree.
Then there was the ornament from her junior year of high school, her golden saxophone. At this point, she had been playing the alto saxophone since fifth grade. She absolutely loved it. It was a way to express herself without using words. It was a way to escape the world for a little bit and get lost in the music that she was making. This was an ornament that she especially held close to her heart. It reminded her of eight years of practicing day after day trying to be the best she could be. Because of her hard work, she was number one chair in the marching band, the concert band, and the jazz band all through high school. She spoke to people through her music. She created music that made her happy. The golden saxophone hanging near the top of the tree reminded her of her escape in life and of one of her biggest accomplishments.
The diploma and graduation cap ornament came next. She received this the Christmas of her senior year. She was nearing graduation and it was a moment that she had been working hard towards since kindergarten. She had big dreams after high school and she had a lot of goals. This ornament symbolized hard work, it symbolized perseverance, and it symbolized freedom and the beginning of the next chapter of her life. The chapter that would ultimately decide how the rest of her life would end up. She hung that ornament on the tree every year and remembered the day she walked across the dirty auditorium stage with her red gown dragging along to receive her diploma. The day her real life started.
Next came the laptop computer with a mug of coffee ornament that staged the words ‘World’s Best Journalist’ on it. Marlee’s mom gave this to her the year of her approaching college graduation. She had worked four long years towards her degree. A degree that she had been passionate about since her freshman year of high school. Marlee was probably not the ‘World’s Best Journalist,’ and in fact, she is not working as a journalist now, but her mom was proud of her accomplishment. Marlee had not been able to express herself this freely since her years of playing the saxophone. She loved using words to create a story that could impact the news audience or could make the blog world laugh. Even though she is not working as a journalist now, Marlee still uses her words and still loves to write. That is why this ornament is one of her favorite ornaments.
Last year was the golf club and glove ornament, which was Marlee’s mom’s way of celebrating the beginning of her big girl career. After graduating from Cal U, Marlee had started working at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the Golf Department. It was not what she went to school for, but she absolutely feel in love with the resort and the people that she met along the way. She grew by working there. She changed for the better. She became much more mature, was able to take care of herself and pay her own bills, and she was able to create lasting and meaningful relationships. She doesn’t work in the golf department anymore. She got promoted and switched departments, but she continues to thrive and grow while working at Nemacolin and she continues to meet more and more people and develop more and more relationships. She may not be in the golf department anymore, but that ornament symbolizes more than just golf. It symbolizes the beginning of her own life. It symbolizes the beginning of her career. It symbolizes the beginning to many amazing and lasting relationships.
This year, as Christmas Day approaches, Marlee prepares to receive her 24th Christmas ornament. Another ornament that will remind her of the life she has led up until this point. Another ornament that will remind her of her hard work, her most treasured moments, and the things that sculpted her into who she is today.
It’s not just another Christmas ornament. It’s a moment. It’s another glimpse into her life. It’s another memory. It’s another thing to be proud of and another thing to be treasured.