The Laker-Wesley Chapel/New Tampa-Dec. 24, 2014

Page 5

Baby’s first Christmas ornaments find new homes By Diane Kortus Publisher


ne of the most satisfying pleasures of Christmas is taking down my boxes of ornaments from the attic and unwrapping memories of past holidays. The flush of memories, temporarily forgotten, comes rushing back as I rediscover ornaments carefully packed away in old newspapers. The most emotional unveilings are of ornaments given to me the first Christmas after the births of my son and my daughter. My favorites are a little brown ceramic bear with dangling arms that a sister-in-law made for Andy in 1988. And a pink Hallmark carousel pony with Rachel’s name and birthday, May 4, 1992. My Christmas boxes seem to have more ornaments for “Baby’s First Christmas” than any other theme.There is something endearing about the birth of a child that prompts friends and relatives to bestow these special ornaments on parents. And then, in what seems like no time at all, reindeers made out of clothespins

and glitter-globbed Santas with cotton ball beards take over the ornament box. So again this year, a few days before Thanksgiving, I dragged down my Christmas boxes and set them on the edge of my garage. Andy, now 26, was coming home for the holiday with his new wife, Erin. I thought Andy would want to dig through these boxes and take a few ornaments back to hang on his and Erin’s first Christmas tree. So on Saturday afternoon, Andy and Erin went out to the garage to sort through the decorations.When I checked a half-hour later, they had set aside a dozen or so ornaments, including those from Andy’s first Christmas. I felt a real tug at my heart when I saw that little ceramic bear — the one I had cherished almost as long as my son — laying on top of their pile. But I just smiled and said I was sure the ornaments they had chosen would look great on their tree. A few weeks later, my daughter Rachel

was home from Jacksonville to celebrate an early Christmas because both of us will be away with friends for the holidays. Like Andy, Rachel went through our Christmas boxes to find favorite ornaments for her tree in Jacksonville. Even before looking, I knew that the little carousel horse with her name in cursive letters would be in Rachel’s take-home pile. Letting go of Rachel’s carousel horse and Andy’s ceramic bear was a rite of passage — more for me than for my children. I’ve come to realize that parents go through as many rites of passage as their kids — we just don’t talk about it.We anticipate the transitions as our children grow from infants to teenagers, and all too soon leave home for college and jobs with plans and dreams separate from our own. And one of those rites is passing along our most treasured gifts, which for me includes giving my children their first Christmas ornaments. And it is with joy that I share with you this, my newest Christmas memory. — Diane Kortus is publisher of The Laker/Lutz News. She has owned the newspapers since 2000, and has been publisher since 2009.

A crazy cold, yet warm Christmas By Suzanne Beauchaine Account Manager


nyone remember Christmas Eve 1989 here in Tampa Bay? My husband Gary and I were married for only two years, and it was the first year in our new home in Lutz. It was crazy cold that year.As people switched on their electric heaters, plugged in their Christmas lights, and turned on their electric stoves, the resulting power shortage caused rolling blackouts. The house would be full of light and warmth for about an hour, and then poof — everything was dark.There was no way to know how long we would be without light. Typically the power would be out for an hour or two, but sometimes it would be out for three. We were forced to sit and relax by candlelight, and we found ourselves engaged in pleasant conversation.We had no idea when we would receive the glorious gift of electrical power again. When the power went back on, we

would jump up and do as many tasks as we could that required electricity. I ran the vacuum, cranked up the heat, used multiple burners on the stove, and heated the big oven and the toaster oven at the same time. We didn’t know how much time we had before cold darkness would return. Just as abruptly as lights went on, they’d go out again, and we’d be back in the darkness, fumbling around in a search for lighters, candles and flashlights. While in the throws of it, it felt like the rolling blackouts during the holidays were a curse. Looking back, however, it’s easy to see that the loss of power was not a burden, but a gift. It was a blessing to spend those interludes between our frantic bursts of activity savoring the company of each other. — Suzanne Beauchaine is an account manager with The Laker/Lutz News, joining the paper in 2013. She seeks to listen to customers to ensure their advertising meets their marketing needs.

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Andy’s ceramic bear is making the transition from my Christmas tree to my son’s tree this year.

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December 24, 2014


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