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A Melting Pot

(by Aimee Lee Ball)

There were mixed messages about Christmas when I was growing up. My mother always set out a four-inch-high tree with Lilliputian bulbs that she’d found in a crafts shop next to her obstetrician’s office on the day she learned that she was pregnant with me. The baby nurse when I was born stayed friends with Mom and knitted a stocking for my first Christmas, which was hung from a doorknob since there was no fireplace in our small apartment.

After we moved to a house with more space, my dad would bring home a real tree. And we had Christmas dinner at the home of a great-aunt and great-uncle, who were sort of surrogate grandparents. They were affluent, which my parents were not, and dinner was served by their wonderfully maternal housekeeper named Amy. Although my name was spelled the Frenchified way, for a long time I thought I was named for her.