Christmas holds common images for most of us: snow covered Christmas card scenes, candles glowing in church, the Christmas story from Luke, sugary smells from the kitchen, the crisp hard jingles from the street corner Salvation Army bells, and the mischievous smile of Santa Clause everywhere around us, from the department store to the bottles of Coke.
But for each of us, those images soften and spread into personal memories of Christmases past. A special gift, a special person, a particular tree, a prayer answered. They glow brightly on a dark Christmas morning when we close our eyes in a candle lit room, listening to Christmas music and thinking of the people we love and cherish.
I am suddenly six years old, in my one piece pajamas, curly hair surrounding a face full of awe and anticipation, listening raptly to my dad reading the Christmas story from Luke as we sit with my mother beneath the Christmas tree. Dad had probably had to top the tree again that year. He always chose a tree too tall for the room. It was as if he could never remember the ceiling height as he stood in the grocery lot picking out the thickest cedar tree he could find. He would cut the trunk as far as possible, although that was limited by the tree stand, then trim down the top with mother yelling, “leave some branches for the star.” Then he would find the “holes” in the imperfect tree. He would take the branches he had cut from the bottom, and with string, he would attach some here and there to fill in the empty spaces. Then he would step back and nod his head in acceptance of the now perfect Christmas tree. The nod gave mother permission to haul out the large box of multicolored light strands, the aluminum garland and the course strands of silver tinsel. I loved the candle shaped lights filled with liquid that made the flame appear to flicker up and down.
The tin silver and gold star was placed on top of the tree last, but just before the star, came my ornament. A white ceramic cherub with gold foil wings was hung with a satin ribbon. It was purchased when I was five weeks old. Glass wasn’t available during World War II, so the ceramic angel became a part of our family tradition and is still among my treasures.
I didn’t put up a tree this year. We are having Christmas at my daughter’s house and it seemed a hassle I didn’t need for once. But this week I went out to the garage and got out the box of ornaments. There she was, sixty-five years old, same as me; and I couldn’t help but think of all we’d been through together. As is true for everyone, I am simply a culmination of all the people, all the love, all the experiences I have had. And I feel so fortunate and humbly blessed. Merry Christmas to us all!!
and God Bless us everyone.