“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.”
• Mary Ellen Chase
I am lying on my living room couch, relaxing in the quiet evening. Lamps and Christmas lights brighten the edges, but the room is darker than usual. I’m contemplating “Beauty,” my word for December 26, the 2nd Holy Night. My attention is brought to my unusual little Christmas tree.
I downsized—a lot—this summer and fall, clearing out the years of accumulating stuff that I had begun to feel I was drowning in. It was an emotional process, more intense than I expected, as I sorted out my life’s stuff.
This releasing has been both healing and freeing, impacting all levels of my being. It has revealed beautiful key pieces of my life that were buried under unfinished business, outmoded patterns, and emotional debris. I look around my home now and everything I see, every corner I look into, holds something that makes me feel good.
During the day on Christmas Eve I sat down with my three big Rubbermaid tubs of Christmas decorations. One by one, I pulled out each ornament and held it in my hands. Annie Lenox Christmas songs set the tone as I sorted out the ones that made me feel good as I held them.
I placed those special ones on a little wire tree strung with a set of tiny holiday-colored lights. They were a perfect fit.
Tonight I am looking at my tree and seeing so many beautiful moments. There is my very first ornament, a gift from my Aunt Rita to mark my first year living independently, the little Dutch shoes my parents gave me after a rare trip, and a few plastic-framed ornaments I made years ago when I learned to cross-stitch.
There hangs the angel ornament I was given when my firstborn child, a little boy, was stillborn. A matching one dangles beside it, holding love for my youngest child, sweet Mary Esther, also stillborn. A small white heart with a lace ribbon reminds me of my dad. It came to me soon after he died, and says “I am with you always.”
The words “Family,” “Faith,” and “Hope” are there, anchors that have held me steady and guided me when I felt discouraged and unsure. A little plastic red heart takes me back to a childhood moment with my niece Jahmuna, now a beautiful young high school senior ready to bring her beauty to the world. There’s the wooden star from the Holy Land, and a cutout of St. Rose convent. The sisters there have been praying unceasingly for over a hundred years—it feels like really good energy to have on my tree. Words for Joy hang from the star at the top, glistening in the lights.
Shining brightly on this Holy Night, this unique little Christmas tree is reflecting the beauty of my unique life—my one crazy, wild, and wonderful life. I see the depth and breadth and fullness in a way I hadn’t before. It touches all of my little joy spots and makes me smile.