I put up the Christmas tree a while ago. It celebrates Christ’s birth.
First of all, there is a wonderful ceramic manger scene. It is always placed at the center of the tree. This is what Christmas is all about. In my thinking, it is the most important decoration of all.
On top of the tree is a beautiful star. It represents the guiding light that led the wise men to the baby Jesus.
Jeanne loves angels; so naturally, we have a heavenly host of them — from Jim Shore, Willow Creek, the Dollar Store, and home-made types. Angels were messengers of Christ’s birth.
We have a number of ornate crosses. I know that empty crosses are primarily for Easter, but they too make great ornaments with some glitter on them.
What remains is a real hodge-podge of stuff, an eclectic mix that represents our family’s history.
Last year, I purchased some retro-types that Jeanne and I grew up with – nothing too fancy. For me, it was some small, brightly-colored metal bells. For Jeanne, it was one of those plastic “spinners,” that is shaped like a carousel or bird cage. I can’t quite tell.
When we were living in Texas, our daughter, Naomi, had returned to live in Washington state. She sent us an “I’ll be home for Christmas” ornament, hinting that we should return home to Washington soon. We still have it.
There are a couple of Peanuts characters that include Snoopy and Lucy. Lucy is Jeanne’s favorite. She was cast as that character in a play once.
There is a small plastic cruise ship from our tour of the Caribbean and Mexico.
Some have a specific year written on them, commemorating that particular Christmas.
There are also other hand-made ones. Ben’s favorite has his name and picture on it.
The thing is about these ornaments – many are associated with specific events or times in our lives, from childhood, the beginning of our married lives, having children, and living in certain places.
It is amazing how simple things can bring forth powerful memories (and the emotions associated with them).
Hung on this tree are symbols that represent both Christ’s birth and pieces of our family’s history.
Yet, this tree is not a mix of “sacred and secular,” as some might be led to believe. There is one theme: “God always being with us,” and this something to celebrate.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.