The Ornament of the Year: Preserving God’s Working in our Lives
Posted by Melanie in Uncategorized
Christmas had always been a special time in both our families growing up, our mothers made many of the ornaments on our tree, we had certain foods that were always served, certain activities the family always did. Our first Christmas together after our marriage found us over a thousand miles away from our childhood homes and we felt a little bleak as we considered how to celebrate. Just about the time we decided to go buy a live Christmas tree, a couple of unexpected boxes showed up on our doorstep. One of the boxes, from Hal’s grandmother, had a handmade tree skirt, lights, a first Christmas together ornament, and a collection of crocheted ornaments she had made for our tree: snowflakes, stockings, snowmen and more. I have never heard of a more thoughtful Christmas gift for a new couple. Our tree immediately became warm and homey! The next box, from Hal’s mother, contained ornaments that had been Hal’s growing up – the ornaments he saw on his childhood tree year after year. Melanie was so grateful to share that piece of his childhood with him. Those two wonderful ladies inspired us as we looked at the tree which had a few hours earlier been so impersonal and cold. We wanted to always have a tree that was full of memories! We decided that year, long before we had children that each year we would choose an ornament that would remind us of God’s doings in our family that year. We would buy one for ourselves and one for each of our children. When they married and left home, we would send them a box of each year’s ornament of the year, a box of memories to share with their mates.

We’ve done that now for over twenty years. The day we decorate the tree is greatly anticipated in our home. I serve party foods instead of dinner; things like meatballs and cheese ball with crackers, chips and dip, and eggnog. Eggnog is a favorite in our house (non-alcoholic and generally diluted with milk) and the day we decorate the tree is the first time we drink eggnog in the season. My favorite time is when the youngest child sees the tree come in the house. The look of awe is delightful! “Dad’s bringing a tree in the house! What in the world?” their eyes seem to say.

We take time to remind our children that the use of a Christmas tree is not described in Scripture, but it is one way we can show our joy in God’s gift of Jesus Christ to us and remind ourselves of what He has done for us. The fresh evergreen reminds us of eternal life, that there is coming a time when death shall be no more. The lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

Each year as we decorate the tree, we tell the stories behind each ornament. When we unpack the blown glass cornucopias, we tell our children about the year that Hal had been laid off and God’s abundant provision for us. The little Wright flyers remind us of the year our family made a movie about the Wright Brothers and the director’s clapboards of the year our boys’ films did so well in competition. The tiny life jackets remind us of the year we spent weeks at the Lake since Hal was now self-employed and could work from anywhere. The ornaments that others have given us enable us to talk about them and their roles in our lives as well. As we unpack each ornament and place it on the tree, God’s incredible blessings to our family, in hard times and in good, become obvious to all of us. Decades of memories hang on our tree.