Last night my children trimmed our Christmas tree... a little fake fir tree so small that my son could reach up and put the star on the top. They loaded it with handmade ornaments, and ornaments given to us by various people throughout the years. I strung the lights and then sat back, watching them. They divided the ornaments into three piles... Kayden's, Chailyn's, and "the rest."
Chailyn picked up a cinnamon stick with red ribbon crossing it horizontally, creating a tree effect. He smiled and said,"Mom, mom, my cinnamon ornament that I made last year in Mrs. Moritz's class!" Kayden hung a gingerbread girl that she recalled making with her friends two years ago at our house... during the "kid" holiday gathering. Ornaments went up that I couldn't remember receiving, but the kids knew. Kayden "awwwwed" at the picture ornament of her, five days old, curled up and crinkly like a new petal with a pink ribbon on her bum. Chailyn played with the nutcracker that dances when you pull a string... that his grandpa brought him home from Italy a few years ago. I hung a wooden santa that my friend, an artist, made for me before Chailyn was born.
Our tree tells a story of our life. It reminds us who has come and gone, and how we have spent the moments up until now. The memory of making that marshmallow ornament with the kids at the Novi Holiday Night is what we hang on the tree... the giggles mixing gingerbread dough... the cuddle we shared at Grammies, now framed in silver and tied to the branch with a red satin bow.
As my son hangs a faded rocking horse with the words "JASON 1970" scrawled in red marker on the back, we are reminded of our own youth... that time before this family, when we were a part of another family. When we were children creating memories and hanging handmade ornaments on our first family's Christmas trees, we had no idea that we would be remembering with our own children decades later.
This morning, as I ponder the hour we spent together last night lighting up a small corner of our dining room, it reminds me that the parts of childhood we remember are not the ones we might suspect. It's not going to be the toys or the gadgets, the new fads that "must" be purchased or the kids just won't be happy. It's not going to be whether we disciplined the kids the right way (if there is such a thing), if we had gourmet dinners or fancy cars or big houses. What is going to be remembered are the moments of being together, of loving one another, of sharing our lives with people that are close to our hearts.
So, I guess you could say there is a little love in every ornament on our tiny tree. When I look at it this morning, and each time I look, I am reminded of a lifetime of love, joy, laughter, friendships, family, and everything that the spirit of this season is supposed to bring. This is a tree of our life.