Voices From the Past
My father gave me a Christmas ornament the year that he died (1990). It was in the shape of a cat and it played a Christmas song if you pushed the button. It wasn't expensive, it wasn't even that nice. But it meant a lot to me later. Every year I unpack the decorations and push that button on the cat ornament to see if it still works. It always does. The cat sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and I feel like my Dad is there. I'm always amazed at how long the batteries have lasted in that thing. It's a miracle every year when it still works!
Last year was an exception. I placed the ornament on the tree and it played it's little tune. My family came over for Christmas and they were amazed that it still worked after all of these years. Before they left, my bother pushed the button on the cat and it started to play. And play and play and play. It played "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for three days straight. I began to hate the tune and figured out various ways to make the music stop-- boiling it in a big pot of water, throwing it into the fireplace, etc. Eventually, the batteries did die without intervention, and it turned back into an ornament that I could tolerate.
I decorated the tree this year and as I hung the cat ornament, I feared presing the button-- what if it sings again for three days? What if it doesn't sing again-- ever? I pushed the button and nothing happened. I squeezed it, shook it and twisted it and it didn't make a sound. I hung it on the tree anyway. Before going to bed, I pushed the button one last time and a split second sound came out of it-- it said "We...". I realized that that would be the end of the tradition and the last sound I would hear from my father, 15 years after his death. "We". Merry Christmas, Daddy. I miss you.