We put up our Christmas tree tonight. We had just finished straightening the branches (it's an artificial tree and it's on it's last leg, more on that later), when I ran upstairs to find my favorite ornament. I found it - wrapped gently in paper and then again in bubble wrap, and stored in a box marked EXTREMELY FRAGILE. I took it out of the box and watched the lights from the tree reflect on its shiny surface. I'm not even sure who gave me this ornament - it might have been Document Solutions - a vendor I used for the 8 years or so I worked downtown, and who always bought their clients a unique ornament for Christmas. I really think it may have been my friend Tish, though, but I just can't say for sure.
It's a penguin. A cute little penguin, with an adorable round little belly, red shiny shoes and a red and white scarf. It's made out of a very fragile material -like glass, but much, much more fragile. It glitters and sparkles. Its cute little head is covered with some sort of gold-colored winter hat that is what I think of as a babushka. It's my little Russian penguin. Every year I hang it on the tree, and think of someone who might one day come from Russia... but now may come from somewhere much, much closer. Tonight as I hung my little penguin center stage of my tree, he sparkled more than ever. He sparkled with hope, sweet hope, the thing with feathers that we all know perches in the soul... and sings the tune without the words... and never stops... at all.