The Memory Tree
She sits in a straight backed desk chair, dressed in a festive shirt and sweater, slowly and carefully unwrapping each item, running her fingers over the surface as if to absorb the impression contained within. Then she carefully hangs the treasure on just the right branch somehow knowing the place had been reserved for it only. Her white hair gleams, the result of the decision to cease the hair coloring addiction and go a la natural a year or so earlier. Her eyes dart from the item to its assigned place and a smile curves her lips, as images of years past flood her mind.
To my wife of 40 years, Christmas is wondrous time and decorating the tree may be the single best part of the season. It’s not the ornaments, but the memories they evoke that bring her so much joy. Each ornament has a story; the parachuting Santa Clause when both of our sons jumped out of a perfectly functioning airplane, the flannel Beefeaters from Harrods’s when we visited England, the ornaments purchased to commemorate the births of our 3 grandchildren, the handmade wreath with our middle son’s picture from first grade. These are Christmas ornaments some decades old, chronicling our life’s events, big and small. When the grandchildren help decorate the tree, she has told them the stories so often that they now say, “and this little ferryboat was when you and Papa went to some island, isn’t it Nana?” and then she tells about our brief visit to Martha’s Vineyard some 15 years ago.
The scene takes place every December and every year new memories are added to the tree. Every year she unwraps them, and remembers. I am envious of her gift and am thankful that she freely tells all who listen, the memories of our family.
In our family, the green artificial pine tree with its multicolored lights and ornaments is the Brant Family Memory Tree.
So this holiday season as you gather around the Thanksgiving table and sit by the Yule Tree also remember the words of the doctor as he described that night long ago:
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord and this will be the sign to you; you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.”
So what are your favorite memories of the Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Do God and Jesus have a part in your families celebration of those days?
Has the reason for the season been forgotten?
What does “and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men” look like to you?