I also realized that Christmas in my adult life has become a series of fragments and impressions, of moments that come back to me in no particular order.
I had the sweater when Christine and I were only recently married. I wore it to Christmas lunch with my folks, and I wore it later when Christine and I went for a walk in the (thankfully) cold Louisiana air at our apartment complex. Best guess '91.
I had the sweater the year the highway to my parents house was being resurfaced. You had to take a detour, and it was like going through war-torn territory. A few days before Christmas I drove out anyway and visited around lunchtime. The Bold and the Beautiful was on, and my mom's old Christmas tree glistened beside shots of Brooke walking in the snow. Best guess, '94.
I had the sweater when I worked as a librarian and got low pay but abundant time off. I took several days of leave ahead of Christmas, burned logs in our fireplace, read and relaxed in my sweater. Best guess '98.
I had the sweater after we moved four-hours from my folks. I remember driving home around Thanksgiving then returning on the weekend. Best guess '01.
I had the sweater a little later, the Christmas of the year my old man died. He went into the hospital in late August. As we got him settled in a room, the nurse strangely said, "In four months, it'll be Christmas." My old man didn't make it quite that long. For sure, '03. I'd bought him a series of big band CDs the previous Christmas, the music of his youth. I'd wondered then if it might be his last as his house was filled with Benny Goodman. '02
I had the sweater after my mom was in a nursing home. We went to see her Christmas Day that year and hung out with her in her room even though she wasn't quite sure it was Christmas, but she held up the stuffed animal she'd acquired and smiled. Best guess, '05.
I've had it for Christmas dinners Christine and I have prepared. And for trimming the tree and holiday outings and for Christmas walks we still take if the weather allows.
It's a simple cardigan. Plain, a single color, but it holds a mosaic of memories.
Happy holidays, my friends.