Yesterday, with the help of my friend’s two younger children, I decorated my Christmas tree. As I sat on the couch going through the large rubbermaid container filled with carefully wrapped, delicate & somewhat fragile ornaments, I stopped and told the story behind many of them. I have several Belleek China ornaments from my friend Michele, who yearly would give me a little Irish ornament for my tree. My favorite is still the coffee cup and saucer. She was my favorite person to share a cup with, and even as I write this, I miss her so much that I could cry.
There’s another small pink and blue ornament I purchased in a Christmas Mart in downtown Berlin one year, the collection of Irish Dancer ornaments (because everyone I know has given me one), the “Greetings from Michigan” ornament sent from my sister during one of my overseas tours, and the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments for both of my sons, and so many more. And yesterday, I separated many of them into a “Rory” collection, because he just purchased his very first Christmas tree with Holly. Growing up, each year the kids picked out an ornament so that when they moved out, they would each have a small collection to start out with. As I went through the story of each ornament, it was another “empty nest” moment for me. I realized AGAIN that I was preparing THEM, albeit, in the smallest of ways (come on – Christmas tree ornaments?), to be out on their own. It was another moment and realization that I had not prepared ME for.
Ian’s ornaments still hang on the tree, so at this point, my tree still looks much like a Disneyland display. There are hockey players, golfers, boxers, footballs, motorcycles, and dump trucks hanging on it. As I handed each of the ornaments to Josh and Jordan to hang wherever they thought it looked best, I realized – I might be needing some more “grown-up” ornaments now!! Especially after Ian takes his!
But as I got to the bottom of the rubbermaid container, I found the prayers that we have been hanging on the tree for a few years now. I had several adorable gift tags one year, and decided to write people’s names on them, families, or situations, and hang them on the tree. The following year when I would unpack the ornaments, I made an “answered” stack and an “not answered yet” stack. I had almost forgotten some of those prayers had actually hung on my tree! So together, Joshua, Jordan, and I read the prayers out loud, and I would have started crying just about the time we read the one for Danielle and her husband who were praying to adopt a baby (and they did!!!), but then Josh asked,
“Can we PLEASE eat dinner now??” Jordan and I laughed, I said yes, and we headed into the kitchen.
You know what? I don’t need any grown-up Christmas ornaments, (and I CERTAINLY don’t need any more Irish dancer ornaments!) I need more gift tags – THAT’S what I need! Even now, I’m sitting beside my tree as I write this. The ornaments that hang from it remind me of people I love, fun times in my life, and all that I have to be thankful for. Even the “We Remember 9/11” ornament that sweet little Jordan asked about, was an opportunity for me to tell her a little bit about that day, and about the fact that we still live in the greatest country on the planet.
I have MUCH to be thankful for, and this is a tradition that I hope and pray my children will continue with their families, for generations to come!
And if you know me, and you’re wondering if your name is hanging on my tree? It very likely is……..
Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’m headed out to purchase some gift tags….