Trimming the Tree—Ornaments of Discord and Deliverance
Tonight we trimmed our Christmas tree. From the photo above (not to mention classic movie scenes) you might imagine us gathered round the green boughs, voices raised in song, sipping hot cocoa and eating frosted angels. Well, we did have boughs, so prickly Wayne had to get out his work gloves, and the tree had a strange tilt that got corrected, but not before I thought it was going to tip and spill water all over the floor and electrical outlets, setting the house on fire (my mother’s influence here). We had voices raised, though not in song. We had angels, as in “my angel goes on top or I’m not putting up any more ornaments”. Oh, and no cocoa but half way through I opened a bottle of wine (right after Rose said something particularly irritating and Helen mouthed “I’m going to hit her” in what’s known as a stage whisper).
Wayne seemed to take the evening much better than me and even took photos by the tree, not stopping until he more or less got us all smiling at once. He also managed to get me to throw out five old strings of lights by using a touch of sarcasm when I said they might work one day: “Well, then, Helen, put them back in the box so you can get them out and not use them next year.” He’s now watching TV with Rose to calm her down while Helen works with boyfriend Josh on an American Government essay on the death penalty (for or against and explain why) which is due tomorrow morning. As I sit on the couch with my second glass of wine, our two dogs beside me as usual, I start looking at the ornaments more closely.
I see the one that Helen made in first grade, a straight-edged triangle tree with a gold star on top, blue sky surrounding it. I see a clay cookie in the shape of an R, a present to Rose when she was still a baby. I see a photo of Helen and me on a road trip to Wyoming, now enclosed in a cardboard snowflake. And as I look at these ornaments, they manage to deliver me from my disappointments about this evening. It wasn’t all I had hoped for, all I would have liked it to be. But we still got the tree trimmed, as a family, with the ornaments that remind us of what we’ve done together. And they remind me of something else. At least for tonight, my daughters are alive and safe in our warm house. And for that I offer up a prayer of thanks.
Life is short and oh so fragile. May there be peace on earth and good will to all, and especially, especially, our children.