Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Satin Ribbon

The tree comes out the weekend after my birthday, usually going up amid shouts and cheers for our boys in blue as I carefully unwrap precious ornaments given decades ago.

The small pieces of cloth, glass, metal, and wood are treasures in our home; Each piece gave me pause.

I stood, remembering the friend who so lovingly stitched our "Yard of the Month" ornament while we were in the Navy together.  Those years when the grace girl was toddling around and I was ripping out bushes and changing landscaping in officer housing...giving attention to something that stayed done for more than four minutes with an active babe in the house. It was the three of us, a time where work didn't come home with the man because it was classified and our nights and weekends were all ours to shower our girl with stories and play and attention.

Then came the block "M" for the years of the PhD and little bit joining us...the hospital she was born in bearing the same title as the University where her daddy studied, taught, and did research. The place where she spent weeks in the NICU and the place we still support with our hearts on autumnal Saturdays.

The glass heart caught my eye and it caused a deep breath, knowing it was on her tree too, we each had one, tying us together.

 A littler lower sits the log cabin cloth, quilted by my gram's hand years ago, playing a song and reminding me of all that was good in her.

I gazed at the faces of my babes in frames scattered round the tree, with two shoes, four years apart, hung on the horizontal and remembered how we searched high and low to find that very same ornament for little bit's first Christmas.

I found Cinderella, nestled in the branches, gently twirling her skirt and recalled the year we went to Disney World and all a chubby cheeked three year old wanted to do was go and visit "Cinder-hella". She was almost cherubic in her look then, a look long past as she's now reaching my cheekbone and sharing my shoes.  But that year? She loved princesses, the ornament, and the replica of Cinderella's Castle she received as a gift.

Front and center went joy and the ballet slippers. One for each of my chicks. Full of spirit and grace and laughter.

I thought the tree was finished. I thought it had everything it needed on it this year.

Until tonight...

....When a most treasured and appreciated package arrived on my porch.  A new ornament from a new friend...one I've actually been blessed with hugging in real life.  Across the miles, she included me in her extended family Christmas tradition.  Her beautiful script flowing across the front of her card, my eyes all welly, I bounded down the stairs, grabbed a hook, and finished our tree.

A simple satin ribbon sets it apart from the others, but I think it looks like it's always been there, don't you? It made me think about the ways in which we hold our memories and how they are triggered. How sight and tradition are such powerful parts of our story.

I'm so thankful for friends, new and old. For hearts that stretch across state lines and hug ours in unexpected and appreciated ways. For emails that share openly. For prayer requests.  For girls who nestle in the hallows. For the first flakes of snow that made their appearance on the way home from tumbling class...

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