It was always a special gift. Once the tree was up and the ornaments were on, or perhaps we were getting a bit rambunctious and bored, she would pause the activity and begin her presentation. It was the “special ornament” giving time. Mom and us. We loved it! We couldn’t wait to see what she had so carefully chosen. When we were very young those ornaments were often themed, which somehow connected our experience for that year, that moment…for forever. She created something we could never forget.
I don’t always put up a tree. Occasionally I decide to let the trees I pass while driving be my “Christmas tree”. If I’m spending time in Guatemala, I let that be my “Christmas tree”. And for the past many years…being with the church community serving, worshiping and celebrating together with parties, feasts and special music…that all serves more than enough for any Christmas decoration for me. It doesn’t bother me a bit to look at my schedule and determine a more minimal approach like setting out a nativity, hanging my stocking and using some Christmas napkins to call my home “decorated”. But it’s 2020. I’m not traveling. I’m zooming from my home or office for most everything. Any COVID “risk taking” is reserved for the most important in-person moments. And I need the Christmas tree!
So it is up! The lights are shining. Every ornament is hung; each with its own memory. The tattered and fragile ones are from my childhood. I hang each one with memories of my brother and sister, mom and dad; the family celebrations – all complete with tears and meltdowns; laughter and love; the life-shaping ordinary moments. There are ornaments from special places I’ve traveled; places or memories I wanted to remember every year for the rest of my life. On this tree are ornaments my friends have given me over the years that add grace and joy to not only this moment, but all the ordinary days too.
For this Advent season of 2020, I am grateful for the many ways memories and people are woven into the fabric of life that a global pandemic cannot unravel. I’m glad the tattered ornament that looks like nothing to someone else, still causes my heart to fill up with hope that just can’t stop. I’m humbled to see that over a lifetime of years that were challenging, amazing and all uniquely blessed, there is a theme of Joy running through that I cannot miss. The tree is up! Ornaments are hung. Nativities are placed to make the true visible. We are blessed beyond measure. Advent has begun. Come Lord Jesus, come!
Prayer: God help each of us and all of us to know what to do this week to increase our sense of wonder, hope and joy. We know you are here. We trust you are guiding us and shaping us for heaven no matter how tattered or worn we may be on any given day. Thank you for the ways you are coming to us right now…making sure we know how deeply we are loved.