By Bette Lee Crosby / December 10, 2011

In our family Christmas starts early, sometimes as early as January, but always before woolen sweaters are pulled from drawers. We buy gifts to tuck away in closets, sew stockings, embroider names and create clever little plots to send some poor unsuspecting guest on a treasure hunt for his or her present. On more than one occasion I’ve been the unsuspecting guest and oh what fun it was.

The most memorable occasion was the Christmas before hubby and I were married. He had given me gifts of jewelry during our courtship and they were always wrapped in the same paper with a shiny gold tassel tied on top. Since we’d already set the wedding date, I expected him to give me an engagement ring for Christmas and sure enough, under the tree was small package with the Jeweler’s gold tassel glimmering in the twinkle of Christmas lights.

Our tree was a twelve-foot high spruce that we had chopped down and carted home from the tree farm; underneath the tree were dozens upon dozens of beautifully-wrapped presents. My eye went directly to the gold tassel; “Oh, you’ll have to open that one last,” my soon-to-be hubby said. So I waited as the rest of the family unwrapped shirts, sox, bathrobes, picture frames and knick-knacks galore. Finally it was my turn. The box felt heavier than I’d expected, but slowly I peeled back the gold paper, then my jaw fell… “a watch?” I sighed, removing it from the box. My disappointment was quite obvious, but future hubby was smiling.

The smile turned to a full-out grin. “Well,” he said, “there is one more gift for you, but I think Santa’s hung it on the tree.”

My most wonderful ornament with this year’s note & my engagement ring

He expected it to take a good hour or so for me to locate the little red lacquer ball hidden in the branches of the gigantic tree…but as I said earlier, I come from a family who specializes in Christmas and I knew every ornament on the tree. Each and every bauble meant something to me—many were hand-made, clothespin dolls and felt angels with pipe cleaner halos, snowmen, Santa’s and bells tied atop the packages of Christmases gone by, ornaments that were gifts from friends, some from people long departed… everything on the tree was rooted in family tradition. It took five minutes to find the red lacquer ornament and less than a heartbeat to open the ball and find a beautiful diamond ring that was precisely my size.

That was twenty-five years ago. This year hubby and I will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. As for the red lacquer ball that held my ring…it still hangs on our tree every year only now it comes with a new tradition, one that warms my heart more than words can say. Each year before I hang the ornament on the tree I open it up and inside is a new love note from the man I am so happily married to.

About the author

Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby's books are "Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances." - Midwest Book Review The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby's writing is, "A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures." Samantha from Reader's Favorite raves, "Crosby writes the type of book you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down." "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write." It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: TheRoyal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal, Reader's Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer's Choice Award.


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