Three weeks until Christmas. All week long, Paul and I have been bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic—lights, wrapping paper and fancy boxes, the pre-lit tree, wreaths, bows, tinsel, greenery … and the ornaments. Lots of ornaments. This weekend, the house will transform.
Our Christmas tree has its own unique personality. Not a designer creation by any stretch of the imagination, but one wholly representative of our life together. From the kiln-fired airplane painted by our son in first grade, to the Rudolph made from a real peanut and decorated with pipe cleaner antlers and googly eyes our daughter made in 2nd grade – each item we put on our tree comes with its own special memory.
Some of my faves include a cuckoo clock from Germany, a photo ornament of our beloved dog, Mac, and a hand painted bulb given to us by a dear friend when we lived in South Korea. There’s a sea shell from Barbados, a Big Ben from England, A reproduction of Mary the Queen Catholic Church (moved from Buffalo to Norcross in 2010 and gifted to us by our son and his family). A replica of St. Basil’s Cathedral from Russia, foam handprints of our grandchildren, and (recently added) a kangaroo ridden by a koala from Australia.
After the festivities end every year, I painstakingly wrap each ornament in soft paper to ensure its safety. Let’s face it, some of these things are older than my own kids! And fragile, so delicate. The payoff comes the following year when I get to unwrap them all over again. It’s like my very own private Christmas complete with presents! I get to relive some of the best times of my life.
And yes, sometimes I cry.
Amidst the unveiling of all these precious and priceless memories, there are two ornaments in particular that I look for. Christmas isn’t Christmas until they surface. The first (our very first Christmas ornament) was given to us by our German landlord, a little something his wife made for our first Christmas together in our first home. She took a simple brotchen (a crusty, hard roll), varnished it, added a ribbon and a little decoration, and penned a note. “Gib uns heute unser täglich brotchen” — Give us this day our daily bread.
We still have that roll. The note has yellowed with time, and the bread is crumbling, but it still goes on our tree, front and center, in a place of honor.
The second ornament is a baby in a blue cradle that we picked up on our first road trip to Italy. (You see the “first” pattern?) It represents the Baby Jesus. We were young, invincible, and owned the world back then. Tomorrow was a long time away. As with most young people, we took one day at a time and without much of a plan for the future. But even so early in our marriage, we knew Christ belonged in our marriage.
I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and Christ-filled Christmas.
Frohe Weihnachten – Feliz Navidad – 메리 크리스마스 – С Рождеством Maligayang Pasko – Joyeux Noël – Giáng sinh vui vẻ – Nadolig Llawen
Merry Christmas to all!