My mind travels back to places I’ve been and the people I’ve been touched by, each year as I decorate my Christmas tree. Special ornaments made by my children and grandchildren are set in place. A miniature red sled represents the Adult Sunday School class in the first church I served. While a ceramic cardinal reminds me of Mary, who each Sunday sat near the stained-glass window given in her grandmother’s memory. Downstairs a large painted pine cone, made into a tree and decorated by children in that small rural Sunday School, finishes a winter scene.
Memories and gratitude come fresh again as I linger over Hardanger and crocheted angels, all lovingly made. A small framed woodland scene, done in needlepoint, is the gift from a woman who spent months making them for each of our home-bound people. Beautiful china ornaments, reflecting the hope and promise of Christmas, rest high on the tree. Arranged safely out of range of small grandchildren, gifts from a staff member. An angel hanging near the top of the tree, brings to mind a woman who attended every Bible study. Large glass balls find space among “To our Minister” and “Special Mom” and other keepsake ornaments. Ceramic ornaments my mother made for each grandchild are intermixed with newer Hallmark ornaments, given by her grown-up grandchildren.
My tree will never have the coordinated look of a department store variety. No, mine is a tree filled with memories of celebrations, kindnesses and caring people. They bring together the many parts and places of my life. All intertwined and intermingling with the present. I think, not only of the giver of those gifts, but of the communities which enriched my journey. Each carries a blessed memory. Each is a treasure. Each giver, a gift in my life. Each a reminder of the greatest gift of God’s own son, who came as Emmanuel. God with us. Today and always.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ which means, ‘God with us.” Matthew 1:22-23
Daily Devotions and other Christmas resources can be found at – Devotions for Advent to Epiphany