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childrens handprints

Tenderly tied memories…

Tenderly tied memories

“Within the branches of our tree,
Nestled among each ornament,
Are tenderly tied memories
That link the past to present.”

~C. L. Gillmore, 2012~

Early this morning, while the house was still and dark, I walked into the family room, turned the Christmas music on softly, relit the white candle inside the glass hurricane and plugged in the tree lights. I wrapped the green and white quilt snugly around me, settled back into the soft leather armchair and surveyed this year’s tree from top to bottom…the gold wire star on top, the red and green glass ball ornaments, the glittered pear and apple ornaments, the cascading ribbon garland…and the mesmerizing bubble lights.

I watched as one-by-one each light warmed the liquid inside and sent tiny bubbles floating upward inside the small glass cylinders. The red and green glass ornaments reflected the glow of the bubble lights and the entire tree shimmered and percolated in the darkness. The quiet beauty of the tree made me smile…let me remember.

The bubble lights take me back to Muscatine, Iowa and Christmas dinners with my mom at Aunt Glady’s and Uncle Frank’s apartment on East Second Street. They always placed a small artificial tree in the front window adorned with multi-colored bubble lights. I don’t remember much about the dinners—what we ate or the gifts we exchanged—but I do remember Christmas music playing softly in the background and watching the bubble lights.

The sparkly gold star atop the tree reminds me of a misshapen star cut from cardboard and covered in aluminum foil. The star topped a small, prickly cedar tree my mom chopped down near the side of a graveled road the Christmas after my dad died. My sister and I made red and green paper chain garlands and cut out white snowflakes to decorate the tree. I don’t remember presents that year but I do remember a beautiful little tree, paper chains, snowflakes and a silver star.

The glass ornaments remind me of salt-dough handprints our sons, Adam and Aaron, carefully crafted and wrapped for us. The handprints grew larger with each passing Christmas and were lovingly hung next to school pictures on our tree year after year. Now grandchildren’s handprint ornaments adorn the Christmas trees in their homes.

The glittered ornaments remind me of decorated dog bones, personalized stockings and miniature knitted coats hung on the tree in memory of each sweet dog that shared our homes, our hearts and loved us unconditionally.

Most of these treasured decorations are gone, lost over time. But deep within the branches of each year’s tree—beneath the star and sprinkled among the many ornaments and ribbon garland—are tenderly tied memories of Christmases past. Beloved faces, places, smiles and laughter, sounds, smells and bittersweet tears— packed and unpacked year after year—priceless reminders of love’s pure light.

Wishing all of you the sweetest holiday memories…and opportunities for creating even more. Cheryl