The Ornaments’ Story

This year the ornaments have moved a foot up the tree.

“Don’t get a puppy around the holidays.” Looking at our tree you would know we threw that advice out the window this Thanksgiving.

And so this puppy’s presence has my uncle’s ceramic angel tightly sharing a branch with a glittery golden ball. My son’s Curious George ornament nestled in with a symbolic nail from my husband’s church.

The absence of ornaments on those lower branches, telling another chapter in the story of our life. Of decisions. Of life’s turns.

Rather than their own space, the ornaments crowd. Some years less breathing room than others.

The bareness at the bottom reminding me of the year our son came home from Guatemala. That year too, a sacrifice of the “perfectly decorated tree” for a truer beauty. A ten month old. Our ten month old son. An enjoyment of every moment of preparation. Seeing glory in needing to baby proof.

I smile at Purdue Pete. My husband’s alma mater. Each year this Indiana University girl moves him to the back of the tree. Each year he reappears front and center. I move him back. The next morning he is closer to the top, out of my reach. And so we go on for the month of December. I savor this playfulness, this enjoyment of our marriage.

My eyes look to and fro. Letting the memories flood.

Two snowmen, sitting on a bench. Our first Christmas it says. I try to remember back to it. Wondering about our hopes and dreams. Placed on our tree in anticipation and delight.

My dad’s picture in a silver frame. His joyful spirit present with us. Missing him. The one from whom I learned about remembering stories. The ones that ornaments tell. Packed away for a year. Eager to emerge and speak.

Remembering the year Rob and I were just engaged. Rob dropped and broke an ornament. My dad told him it was a precious heirloom. It wasn’t. His legacy of living each minute of life goes on.

Seven years it took for the ‘baby’s first Christmas’ ornament to appear. Waiting. Hoping. Preparing. For so long. Advent reminding us each year of our longing.

I read the words etched on an ornament from dear friends living in Uganda. I remember friendships of the past. Of ones that endured. Ones that have not. And in each grateful for the gift they have been in our life.

Homemade. Store bought. Secular. Sacred. But when I look it doesn’t have those distinctions. It blurs. It is our life. Our collection of living.

Some years the tree looking balanced. Reflecting things in their place. Other years adjusted for what life has brought. The ornaments come out of hiding this time of year. Reminding us of our past, while we wait for news of a birth into the messiness.

My eyes come to rest. Gazing at the star on top. Guiding while we wait. May these vignettes into the past call me to wait well for the hope to come.

What story do your ornaments tell?


Linking up with: Amber, she has a weekly Concrete to Abstract writing assignment. This week’s was the Ornament. Please go here and read all the beauty.

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  1. Ashley @ Draw Near says:

    I love how you describe your tree — “our collection of living.” How beautiful that is and so apt to describe ours too. These layers of memory, remembering the givers and the times they recall. I love too how you’ve talked about their placement. That making room for what is greater.

  2. There are so many precious memories here, and I feel like I’m sitting down by the tree looking at them, too. Thanks.

  3. tanya marlow says:

    I love how many of these ornaments represent waiting, or a new start. There is so much richness in recollecting the memories! (and how exciting that you have a puppy!)

  4. Sweet Melanie
    If only Xmas trees could tell stories! But, then yours whispered these beautiful memories from your heart. I love the pic of your father, so precious.
    Thank you

  5. Jennifer {StudioJRU} says:

    OH this is a beautiful post. I feel the same way about our tree full of ornaments. It is a mismatched beautiful mess of ornaments that all mean something to us. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth, wynnegraceappears says:

    I love your words here so much, and your story telling and the overflow of your heart. Its all beautiful. I am amazed at this group of writers at Ambers and honored to be a part of this community. This weaving of life and all the memories and traditions, each so distinctive and each marking us and making us who we are.

  7. Nancy Smith says:

    Melanie, wonderful words. I too, think of memories attached each year as i bring out each ornament and place them on the tree. the unbreakables down low so the toddlers in our family can touch and experience them. The class picture ornaments made at school, the precious ones bought because their beauty caught my eye, the ones inherited, all of them tell a story in and of themselves. Be blessed this Christmas as you recall the memories. N

  8. Oh goodness. As I read your post I certainly wish I would have placed the ornaments on the tree with the sons rather than wait to come back and give them the holy pause. Each ornament does tell a story. So glad to be writing in community with you at Amber’s. I am a little late, but so good to be here today. 🙂

  9. Elizabeth @seasonswithsoul says:

    Just lovely! Thanks for sharing. Now, I’m inspired to go look at my tree and the memories it holds.

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