December is my favorite month of the year. I celebrate the birth of Christ all month, starting with decorating my home. Not with costly ornaments. Not with hundreds of showy lights, (although I enjoy them on my neighbors' houses). I decorate with items acquired over the years that are filled with precious memories of people and days gone by.
In this cherished photo, I am decorating the tiny tree on the file cabinet in my office in Darrington High school in the early 1950s.
I was the very-young school secretary--hired shortly after graduation at age 16, for the magnificent salary of $60 a month before social security and retirement.
After years of trees that reached our 10-foot family ceiling at home, I now have a 2-foot artificial tree that sits on a table in front of my living room window. A lighted star hangs over it. A 5-candle lighted piece is on the windowsill behind it. More electric candles adorn the bedroom and kitchen windowsills. Easily stored and then set out each year, the decorations silently shout a lifetime of love and memories.
Front and center on my little tree hangs a shiny, lightweight, golden metal bell that is more than 60 years old. A boy I had a crush on in my late teens drew my name for a church Christmas party. The bell came with a small bottle of cologne (I'm sure his mother picked it out!) There are shiny wire ornaments my nieces sold when in grade school, small angels, an owl and a penguin. Each helps me recall the giver.
My decorations (and memories) aren't limited to the tree. The fireplace hearth is lined with stuffed snowmen. Metal carolers sit on my stereo. A gorgeous plush Nativity blanket from a neighbor covers a chair. Angels keep watch from the mantel beside a painstakingly-hand-created plaque that reads: "Each of us is an innkeeper, Who decides if there is room for Jesus" (Neal A. Maxwell). A gorgeous wall tapestry shows Jesus overlooking the city. It is titled O Jerusalem. And a manger scene on a bookcase reminds me of why we celebrate.
My front yard offers a heavy vinyl snowman and a tree that says "Merry Christmas," both on stakes that drives into the ground. An unusual Rudolph brings a laugh from passersby. A neighbor made it out of tree limbs with a fir cone for a stubby tail, a plush red nose, and googly eyes. A wreath by the door and red bows on the lamp post and by the mailbox complete the simple, but effective scene.
From now until a day or so after New Year's, I will bask in the warmth and glow of a home laden with love and generated by memories. Many of the givers are no longer here . . . but their caring lives on.
I thank God it is so
May you have a joyful, blessed Christmas,