We put the decorations on our Christmas tree the other day. It’s been sitting in our house for over a week now, but we were all too sick to decorate. Kids were finally better, so we dug out the boxes of decorations.
I love opening the box of Christmas ornaments. It’s a tradition going back 30+ years for me now. Remembering all those Christmases with my parents and sisters, pulling out the box and putting up our ornaments. My parents gave us all an ornament every year, something that reflected our year. I remember when I went through my horse phase, or the year all of us kids were into Rugrats, or the year I got my cat Deja.
Now there others. The pair of wedding bears given to my husband and me on our first Christmas after we got married. The little wooden nativity from my sister, which she picked up in Jerusalem. Three sets of “Baby’s First Christmas.”
It’s a yearly time capsule.
It was fun watching my kids put up ornaments on the tree, helping my six-year-old find her small collection, and keeping the twins from breaking anything too precious. We cleared a layer, and went onto the next.
And my eyes brimmed with tears.
There’s a simple little ornament. A sea shell one. It’s a big shell, slathered in sloppy glops of gold glitter, with little shells stuck to it, tied with a blue ribbon. I’ve always kind of liked it. It was so much like the little boy who made it for me, the first year I was his teacher. A crazy mess that didn’t quite seem to fit, yet, drew light and attention. It made me smile when I got it, because it was so him. It’s made me smile every year when it goes on the tree.
This year though, it made me cry.
Because that boy isn’t here for Christmas this year.
There’s a lot of happy memories on my tree. There’s a lot of good times.
There’s tears now, too. In the shape of a golden sea shell.