This morning I was kind of kvetching to Rick how decorating has seemed more difficult this year. I am normally the Day-After-Thanksgiving-The-Decorations-Go-Up type of person, but this year I have been dragging my feet and putting it off much to the dismay of my daughters. I know that part of it is that my decorating buddy is far away in Japan and not here to help. Wil has always been the one most interested in the process of preparing the home for the Holiday Season and I have never had to worry that if Wil did it, it would be done right. (Someone should ask Jon about leaving price stickers on ornaments and hoping no one will notice.)
I also know that while last year was exciting because it was our first Christmas in our new home, this year I am missing the routine. After 20+ years, I knew every ornament and where they worked best on the tree, where every Santa or Nativity would be placed in the house, and which wreath hung on which door. This year it is still a process of trial and error, locate and relocate. This has also made me a little melancholy, reminding me again of what used to be. Yesterday I ignored the bare tree in the living room, actually turning on the lights so it looked a little less forlorn, and the boxes of ornaments sitting hopefully awaiting to be placed on that tree. Today I woke with the determination that I will get this done if for no other reason than so we won't trip over them anymore.
As I was going through the ornaments, I pulled out a pine cone. This ornament is very simple with a couple of pieces of evergreen, a silk flower and a maroon bow attached to the top. This ornament is a a part of Christmas Past. I shed a few tears (well more than a few), as my heart was filled with what this pinecome represents to our family.
When Rick was stationed in Virginia, we were limited in the amount of stuff we could move with us. With three small children, including a brand new baby, we had to choose carefully, so all the Christmas decorations were left in Utah to be shipped to Rick's permanent duty station. That year, Hunter and Wil, Rick's sister-in-law Mary and his niece Brittney, and I made ornaments for both our tree and their tree. I had almost forgotten those chilly afternoons in the trailer in Prince George County.
On the first Christmas after the fire, we received a beautifully wrapped box from Steve and Mary. Inside were some of those ornaments made that year far from home surrounded by very little that was familiar to us, along with the following letter from Mary:
Dear Rick and Ann,
I have a very special memory of the first year Steve and I were married. It was Christmas time, we were far from home. We were so happy to have you as near to us as Virginia. You helped us get a tiny little tree, and when we worried about what we would hang on its branches, you helped me make many beautiful little angel ornaments. I remember thinking that they looked difficult and I was sure I would make a mess of them. Ann, you were so positive and patient. You assured me that I could do it, and you were right. We Spent many happy afternoons on weekends in Virginia, sitting in the living room of your little rental mobile home, putting together tiny little lace angels. I remember you had Rick and the kids gathering up pinecones for some other ornaments you were going to make, and I could not conceive of how you were going to make them into ornaments. We were very proud of our tree that year. It was a little sparsely decorated, but very pretty. They you presented us with a package for Christmas, and to our delight and awe it was filled with many many more beautifully crafted hand made ornaments! Our tree was no longer sparse, but every bough was weighed down with crocheted wreathes, butterflies, and candy canes, and wonderful pinecones decorated with glitter and ribbon. (The pinecones were my favorite.) No Christmas tree had ever been more beautiful to me. Your family had spent countless hours to give us a gift we still cherish even now, nearly two decades later. Now we have to decide which decorations to leave off the tree. But each year I make sure we have at least a few of those very special ornaments on the tree. As each of my children leaves our home to start their own families, I plan to send them some of these decorations from our very first Christmas as a married couple. This year I was thinking of you guys, and how in so many ways you are starting over. So, I thought you might like a few little hand made angels, wreaths, pinecones and candy canes to decorate your tree this year. We hope they remind you, as they remind us, of what a miracle and a blessing family is. You were our Christmas miracle that year. It is a memory we cherish, and we hope it will be a happy little walk down memory lane for you as well. Merry Christmas!!
May the Spirit of Christmas fill your hearts not just now but always!!