The Christmas season is steeped in nostalgia, and rarely more so than in the decorations handed down over the years.
When my father passed away in 2017, my four siblings and I gathered to sort through our parent’s remaining possessions. The Christmas boxes seemed to elicit the richest of all conversation.
Each of the five kids had their own glass tree ornament emblazoned with their name written in glitter. When I was two or three, I apparently took a bite out of mine, mistaking it for an apple. I have no memory of the incident, though my sister said my mouth bled badly. My mom and dad replaced it.
I claimed a green wreath with a red bow that hung in our kitchen back in New York. It now hangs in ours in Colorado Springs. I’m somewhat attached to it because I bought it for my mother with my paper route money from Atlantic Nursery in Freeport, Long Island. I carried it home on the handlebars of my bike. That was 38 years ago, and it’s still in fine shape.
When we pulled out the box marked “mantle decorations” we all smiled. Although our father managed the fires inside the brick fireplace in our living room, the top of it was our mother’s domain. At Christmas, she would cover it with artificial greenery, and all kinds of aromatic and beautiful candles.
Only our mother was something of either a procrastinator or a poor time manager. For some reason, she never got around to decorating the mantle until midnight or beyond on Christmas Eve. We’d scurry down the stairs on Christmas morning to find it transformed, the white Nativity set centered and perfectly positioned.
Of course, I thought about my late mother this past weekend as I decorated the mantle of the fireplace with that same greenery inside our music room. I didn’t think she’d mind that I didn’t wait till Christmas Eve. I’m sure I didn’t position the pieces as carefully or as artfully.
The longer it is since my parent’s death, the less important their physical items they left behind mean to me. Instead, it’s the richness of the memories that don’t dull. But it still means a whole lot to me to have these decorations, just a small remnant that still connects me to them and those years of long ago.
The Bible is clear about not hoarding or gathering up material things. It was Jesus Himself who warned, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Thankfully, I don’t think He was talking about a few Christmas decorations, especially since seeing these few items bring to mind their eternal destination of Heaven, and kindles anew my eagerness to join them there someday.
Do you have an old Christmas treasure, perhaps passed down through the years?
Image credit: Paul Batura