The perfect Christmas tree. Is there such a thing?
I think so, and I think it’s mine. I think this every year. Some years our tree has been fat and full. Other years it’s been tall and skinny. But always it’s been perfect.
You see, what makes our Christmas tree perfect isn’t its size or shape or smell. It’s not how the needles feel or whether the trunk is straight. What makes it perfect are the ornaments that dangle from its branches.
My sons have made a good many of them. There’s the construction paper angel my 13-year-old made in second grade. And the picture ornament my 17-year-old crafted in preschool. Each year when we hang my sons’ homemade ornaments, my heart flutters and I am reminded of all that is good in this world. Time passes much too quickly, and the ornaments are treasures from yesteryears when the most pressing problem was a skinned knee.
Along with these homemade ornaments are those my mother bought me. Each year I’d find a new one in my stocking. One year it was Miss Piggy. Another year, Kermit. I looked forward to Christmas morning, eager to see what she had bought. When I hang these decorations, I nearly drown in memories. I want to hug my mother, tell her how much I love her and need her. But I can’t because she isn’t here. She died many years ago, but not before giving me some special ornaments.
They aren’t ornaments you’d find in a store or some exclusive catalog. She made them with her loving hands, one by one as her death drew near. Cancer made her weak and took away many of the things she enjoyed. But that deadly disease could not destroy her spirit or will to leave part of her behind.
And so she cross-stitched.
Hour after hour.
Day after day.
Month after month.
Until she could no more.
She’d sit in the corner chair with needle and thread creating tiny tapestries of love. Some for each of her five daughters and all of her grandchildren.
I remember thinking at the time how important cross-stitching seemed to her. I think it was her way of giving us something we could hold onto and cherish long after she was gone. Something to share with our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
And so, when I walk through the department stores and see all the “perfect” trees in coordinating colors and trendy themes, I smile. Don’t get me wrong. They’re beautiful. But not as beautiful as mine.
I don’t care that my Christmas tree is adorned with a mishmash of ornaments. I don’t care that some of them are chipped and that others are cracked or scratched.
What matters most is the love that has gone into each ornament that hangs on my tree. Riches that warm my heart and feed my soul.
Thank you Zach and Micah and mom for making our family Christmas tree perfect every year.