“May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve.”
Almost shivering in its efforts, the printer spits out the recipe faster than a cat produces a hairball on one’s best carpet. I fold the instructions and place them next to the containers of flour and salt.
I have a particular project in mind this Christmas, and I can’t wait to get busy. Some gifts are too big to wrap, and some too meaningful to explain. But I will try…
For as long as I can remember, I have selected a Christmas ornament that best summarizes a meaningful event during the year. Perhaps “the memory” was purchased during a trip, or it was something found–like a seashell–that becomes an honored tree decoration. It’s not the object. It’s the representation that moves me.
Sometimes, an ornament is given to me, with the gifter leaving his or her spirit in my heart. I think of them as tiny Christmas hugs from endearing souls.
Some ornaments are unintentional reminders of a painful timeline. For instance, I have several pink ribbon cancer Christmas trims from when Mom was dying. People gave them as offerings of hope and support, but for me, they were, and are, reminders of death’s relentless march. Ultimately, Mom gave each of her children one last ornament. They read I love you all dearly, Now don’t shed a tear, I’m spending my Christmas With Jesus this year. She fought on for some time after that, but the message still shakes me more than comforts. Somehow, someway, I think it brought her closure, and so it goes on the tree. My eyes water, though.
Then there are the inherited ornaments. My husband has a small box of fragile old ornaments from his mother. He has told me his favorite is the one that looks like stained glass, but I like the more-stern-than-jolly Santa Claus. “You’d better be nice,” is written all over his face. Well, that, or he had a few martinis before hitting the toyshop. Hey, this is a no-judgment zone, and it is a big list!
This year I did purchase an ornament that depicts an Icelandic horse. My husband and I spent a week in Iceland right before the world stopped due to Covid-19. Therefore, the ornament has layers of meaning…the travel, the horses I dreamt of seeing, and the global pandemic that unleashed.
Beyond those life-altering events, though, there is something else I want and need to honor: my grandson, Link Alvin.
His birth came on the heels of much heartbreak. There was the stillbirth of his sister, Mila, followed by yet another miscarriage sometime later. The echoing thought persisted. Would parenthood happen for them?
And then, one-day last fall, my daughter stopped by for a visit. She had barely stepped through the door when she looked at me, took a deep breath, and said, “I’m pregnant.”
I, too, held my breath for a moment. “How far along are you?”
“Um, maybe two minutes?”
We both laughed. That’s what you do when you’ve made friends with pain and loss. You laugh. You move forward. And you believe even though your faith is tattered into a mosaic of something unrecognizable.
Last April, Link Alvin arrived. He is healthy, strong, and giving his sleep-deprived parents reason to ponder all things baby.
Why is he crying? Should his dirty diaper look like that? Does he feel hot? Is he too cold? What kind of face is that? What day is it?
And so, this year, I am adding a second ornament to my annual collection. I am making flour/salt dough ornaments with Link’s hand or feet impressions. Something so simple, and yet so enormous.
As I said, some gifts are too big to wrap.