When I was growing up, our Christmas trees were always covered in homemade ornaments. Some were crunched, some were missing parts, some were broken and then glued together I-don’t-know-how-many times. Some were missing entire halves. But oh, did I love looking at each one and turning them over gently in my hands to see where my mom had carefully written when it was made and by whom. And I felt so proud whenever found one that I made, lovingly trimming the tree for everyone to see.
Because we had so many years of a tree with sets of matching pieces, it’s been a while since I bought a new Christmas ornament. But this year I’d been eyeing a particular beauty since the store put all their holiday décor on display in November. It was lovely: multi-faceted with all jewel tones and hung from a silky red ribbon. Several times, I removed it from its place on the rack with the other ornaments and just watched it slowly turn back and forth as the overhead lights reflected in its many surfaces. I couldn’t justify spending the money on it when there were so many other things that took priority, so back to its place on the rack it went.
Finally, this week it was on sale AND I had a coupon, bringing its price down to what I felt was okay. So I bought it, brought it home, and with surgical precision began removing the price tag. But as I was trying to get the last little bit of sticker from the ribbon, the ornament slipped from my hands and shattered on the hardwood floor below.
Upon hearing the despair of my hoarse voice’s howl, Liv and Ike came running up the stairs to the office and stopped short. They saw me standing, staring. Their eyes followed the line of my gaze and they saw the shattered ornament that I had moments before proudly shown them. Then I regained my voice and the expletives and tears came. I was so, so sad.
Rick got home late that night and I tried not to make a big deal out of the mishap, but I did tell him how bummed out I was. Aaaaand of course, I cried.
The next day, Rick took the kids to school and let me sleep in. When I woke up and made my way downstairs to my desk, this was waiting for me:
This year, as we decorated the tree, I realized two important things:
1- I hadn’t understood before that the kids’ ornaments were perfect in all their handmade, too much glue glory. Not perfect because of what they looked like, but perfect because they were created by loving hands that painstakingly put them together in a way that they found beautiful. And when their creator beheld them again, they were beautiful all over again, despite being a little worse for wear on the outside.
2- That even when we are broken down and it seems like there’s just no hope to be whole again, there always is, and we will be able to find beauty and in time things will be how they are meant to be.