Every year as I prepare to decorate our tree with ornaments that are showing their age, I consider either buying or making new ones. After all, those crafters on TV who demonstrate how to make lovely ornaments out of all kinds of materials make the process seem so simple. Yes, I tell myself, next year I will definitely do something new.
But when it's time to decorate the tree the next Christmas, I have neither made nor purchased any ornaments. This year was no exception. But when I hung the old ones on what our firstborn daughter calls our "sentimental tree," I realized that the assortment of ornaments said a lot about our family's history and our values. (Funny, I'd never thought about that before.)
This year, as always, I got misty-eyed as I hung ornaments made by our daughters when they were in kindergarten and elementary school. Although the construction paper had faded a bit and some of the handcrafted ones weren't very attractive, I enjoyed them because they brought to mind the sparkle in Jennifer and Jena's eyes when they rushed home to show them to me.
During the years the girls were still living at home, they helped me decorate the tree. I enjoyed listening to them as they reminisced about classmates and teachers associated with the making of those ornaments.
While I trimmed the tree alone (again!) this year, I smiled as I hung whimsical ornaments we'd bought in order to help raise money for PTA projects. Other ornaments had been made at times when I'd volunteered to assist Jennifer and Jena's teachers with art projects. Those simple ornaments reminded me of two of the many ways we participated in the children's education.
Some of the school-made decorations included photos. I held them in my hands a long time and reflected on the way the children were "way back then."
As I hung ornaments given to us by my college roommate (who is still one of my best friends, even after all these years) and by ladies in Sunday School classes I'd taught, I was reminded of the love and friendship I've enjoyed all these years.
While hanging some of the various kinds of ornaments I'd made through the years, I thought, You know...I can be creative--whenever I have time.
As I hung a lovely "store-bought" one that Jennifer had given me, I remembered the handwritten, heartfelt note she'd included in the box with it.
As I trimmed the tree, I gave thanks for the blessing of having a full and happy life and for having a heart that's content with simple things.
Now that I've finished the decorating, I love looking at our "sentimental tree," even when daylight reveals the age and condition of the ornaments. But I catch my breath when I plug up the lights and see the magical transformation that occurs.
As I see how the light hides the imperfections and casts a beautiful glow on each treasured ornament, my heart echoes these words of David: "LORD, [in like manner] you have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness" (Psalm 18:28, New Living Translation), and then I whisper, "Thank you!"
(c) 2001, Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill. All rights reserved.