The Ornaments of Christmas Past


In the early morning hours when I cannot sleep, I love coming downstairs, snuggling under my Christmas blanket, and sit in the warm glow of the Christmas tree. The blue lights hung around our front door and palm tree outside shimmer through the frosted windows. We have a new gold star as the crowning glory of our tree, casting just the right amount of light. Wrapped around the base of our tree is a gorgeous hand quilted tree skirt I received as a wedding shower gift.

As with many families, our ornaments have memories attached to them. There are ones we have purchased at each new place we traveled to, ornaments celebrating Matt and my first dating Christmas(1985), first married Christmas, Sara’s first Christmas (23 years ago!), and some ornaments from close friends, such as one that I received (from close friends of my parents- that now celebrate Christmas in heaven) when I was 8 years old(I will not say how many years ago that was) 😊

Each year Matt hangs ornaments that he actually painted as a child. Unfortunately, I have very little ornaments from my childhood. The one ornament I have is of gingerbread angels and gingerbread men. It is peeling and probably made with lead paint, but I treasure it just the same.

(Matt’s painted ornaments)

When I look at it, I’m reminded of the very first gift I chose and paid for all by myself. I was in first grade and our school library had a small craft fair. I remember being so proud that I bought my parents a gift with my very own quarter (yup that’s what it cost). My treasure of a find was a small glass snowman with a black hat and a green scarf. I remember how happy and surprised my parents were when they opened it. They hung it on the tree every year. I loved how it sparkled when placed just so in front of the string of tree lights. Sadly, I no longer know where it is since circumstances prevented me from having the ornaments from my childhood.

This Advent season amidst the waiting, the hope and joy of the Christmas season, there’s also loss and hearts needing to be healed. I will of course be missing my mom and my Godfather (who I can’t believe have been gone 5 and 6 years respectively). It’s only 7 months since my Dad passed away and a few weeks ago, we unexpectedly lost someone very dear to our hearts. She “adopted” my family nearly 12 years ago when she learned we had just moved to NC and I was so far away from family for the very first time. Her family(her husband and daughter-my bestie) then became family to us as well.

To be honest, I’m grieving and the idea of having merriment eludes me at times. I try to hide it, but I’m clinging to my faith- sometimes grasping at it so tightly, hands clenched, white knuckled in prayer (at least they would be if my hands were better). Yet, I also feel guilty because there are some wonderful possibilities opening up for me, so I should be rejoicing in that. But if I’m rejoicing, shouldn’t I be grieving? My emotions love to play this ping pong match with my heart. I have been trying to think about how my loved ones would have reacted to these future possibilities, and that makes me smile. I’m hopeful when I recognize the joy in these grace filled moments.

Although I may not have all the physical ornaments of my childhood, I do have memories of them boosted by some blurry pictures of the Christmas tree from my childhood. But, more importantly I have memories of my parent’s smiles when they opened that messily wrapped snowman package (those of you who know me well, know that my wrapping skills have not improved and I can’t even blame RSD for that). 🙂

Snowman circled in blue near teddy bear

I know that no matter what gift may be under the tree or hanging on it- like my precious quarter bin snowman ornament – a physical present can never replace a person’s presence. So, tomorrow I will delight in sharing my fond, loving memories of past Christmas celebrations with our loved ones. I hope I can be the peace that someone else may need with my presence as we grieve, reminisce, and smile together on Jesus’ birthday.

Wishing you & your loved ones a blessed, joyous holiday season, enjoying each other’s presence, along with a healthy, peace-filled New Year! I look forward to sharing my November experience at the United Nations and other exciting news in 2020! 

10 thoughts on “The Ornaments of Christmas Past

  1. Yes, Christmas can be joyful or painful, or a mixture of the two. I have had years where I didn’t know how I would make it through. So, when I’m doing well and Christmas is a joy to me, I try to extend love to those around me who I know are having a hard time through the holidays. It’s not usually in a big way. Just in a way that I can.

    Sara

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  2. sandra214 says:

    A beautiful and heartfelt blog, Kathleen. Holidays seem to be a time when memories of loved ones no longer with us bring us both joy and sadness. Remembering the good times via the ornaments we hang on the tree is a wonderful gift we open every year as we drag out the many boxes filled with decorations. I no longer have ones from my youth but I do have the ones from my three girls’ upbringing. And this year especially, when none of them will be home with us tomorrow, those ornaments bring us comfort and joy and smiles.

    Blessing and continued success to you in 2020!
    Sandra

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    • Sandra, thank you so much for your uplifting words. I love what you said about hanging ornaments being a “wonderful gift”. So very ture. I’m sending you a hug. I hope you had a joyous Christmas and your tree provided you many ornaments and memories. Wishing you a blessed, healthy, prolific 2020. 🙂 Thank you so much for your friendship ❤

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  3. Love, loss and sorrow do seem to go hand and hand, Kathleen. A bit over 39 years ago we lost our older daughter, our oldest child. And holidays always remind me that she’s no longer physically with us. She is, however, still present in our hearts and memories. So, I think of her and how much she loved family times. I know she, as are your missing loved ones, is still watching us from above. My hugs and love to you during this time. Feel them around you sending you joy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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    • Sarah, Thank you so much for sharing your heart with me. You have comforted me and that means so much.Your words are like a hug. Sending hugs and love back to you. ❤ I hope that you and your family had a joyous Christmas season. I wish you many blessings and a peace filled 2020(and a prolific one) 🙂

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