It is so much work to pull out all the Christmas decorations from the upstairs storage area. There are boxes and boxes in there along with some see-through bags of soft materials, and a few things simply protected with garbage bags. It is intimidating just looking at it all.
Caregiving has been my job for such a long season this year. Just the thought of adding to my daily work log was too exhausting to my brain. Besides that, my family dynamics have changed this year. The one and only son with his one and only wife and the three one-of-a-kind grandchildren will be celebrating their first Christmas in Tulsa.
So what is the point, I thought, of doing the holiday decorating and just adding more tasks to this already overworked and emotionally drained woman.
This week I changed my mind. I realized Sweet William and I needed a little Christmas.
Last year I purchased a small pre-light tree and stored it in the garage for easier access. I went to its storage place and brought it in, stripped it of the large black bags protecting it from dust and insects and set it up. Not too hard after all.
I went to the upstairs storage place and what do you know – the very boxes I needed filled with ornaments were right there in front. I brought the boxes downstairs and opened them.
At once memories came like a soft snowfall. As I picked each one up, handled it and hung it on the tree, I remembered Christmases past.
I have a number of vintage glass ornaments from my parents’ collection during the early years of their marriage. They were not expensive I’m sure. Some have faded and the paint has chipped on a number of them. Yet they are priceless to me as I hold them and think of Christmas as a child when life was simple.
The plastic ornaments are from my early childhood. Apparently I had broken quite a few one year when I was very small. The next year my dad bought a box of unbreakable ones.
The little mice ornaments were purchased when Travis was born. We were in an apartment, and he was in his walker his first Christmas. The tree was so fascinating to him. He kept moving toward it as fast as his chubby little legs would take him no matter how many times I set him away from it.
Over the years I purchased ornaments for Travis according to his interest. So there are miniature cowboy boots and ice skates and a reindeer kicking a soccer ball and any number of little drummer boys. There is a tiny pair of red Chuck Taylors which replicated Travis’ favorite shoes in his middle school years. And the small car was hung on the tree the year he got his driver’s license.
When he went away to college, I bought a tiny red mailbox representing all the letters I sent him. I didn’t get many in return.
There is a small picture of he and Renee’ the first year she came into our lives.
And then there are the ornaments added when the grandchildren came along.
There are handmade ornaments made by myself and others. Some ornaments remind me of places I’ve been or places other people have been and that they thought of me while they were there.
Ornaments from friends, piano students, Sunday school boys, co-workers, and many others bring back the memories of those special people and how blessed I am with so many treasured relationships.
When the tree was decorated to my satisfaction, I placed an old baby quilt I made for Travis’ crib underneath the tree, its red, green, and yellow print looking quite festive and matching the colored lights all over the branches.
The decorations will be simple and spare this year. Considering that I have much caregiving yet ahead and that I need to practice a little self-care right now, simple is OK.
I have a wise elderly friend who has told me on many occasions, “Each Christmas is different.” This year will be very different for Bill and me. And I do need the memories from the ornaments hanging on the branches of our little tree.
Life as we know it will change like the ebbing and flowing of tides. What remains changeless is the reason we celebrate Christmas. It is Jesus, from His birth to His death and resurrection and to the hope of His return. His faithfulness is constant. His love is everlasting. His grace will be sufficient. His mercy comes fresh from His hand each and every day.
And thus I have reason to celebrate.