So many happy memories of days gone by are gathered on this Christmas tree. Most of our family ornaments are hand made by generations of dear ones. I’ve carried them with me everywhere we’ve journeyed, seemingly farther and farther away from home.
Like the loved ones who gifted them, every ornament has a deeper story. Rick and I together always picked out an ornament that best represented the previous year. Then we added new baby ornaments and ornaments that the kids made. Nearly everyone does this over the years. The Christmas tree becomes a time capsule that we dig up and add to every December.
In the twelve days of Christmas each year, I make time to remember all of the love as much as I can. There have been spans of years when I couldn’t bear to put out all the memories on the tree. It hurt too much and I worked too hard at Christmastime caring for others to let myself feel how intensely my heart hurt. During those years I’d put up the easier memories on the tree, the simpler silly ornaments, and I would focus on how much the kids enjoyed their gifts under the tree.
And then the kids grew up, thanks be to God. Now new joys and sorrows rush in. At some point we learn to ride the waves and catch our breath as best we can. The tides of holy tears, of joy and sorrow, bless these seasons. The tenderness will never go away, I pray, but time does soften the jagged edges in due season. Joy always returns, though it resists being summoned.
I’m slowly beginning to understand the poignant beauty of Christmastide and memories of steadfast Love which iconic ornaments carry forward. Like pictures in albums, Christmas tree ornaments can be brought out and put away from time to time. Meanwhile, we wait expectantly for enough time gone by to soften the joys and sorrows of love and loss. Love keeps our hopeful hearts open as we love the ones we’re with and wait for who is to come.
I am always going to miss all the dear ones who used to joyfully gather and gift around the tree, even as I gladly welcome new souls to the circle. On this truth we can trust, through God’s Love we are One in all places and in all times. Love lives on.
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