Remembering and praying through our life story with our Christmas tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go….
Three weeks from today. Once again, it’s so hard to believe how time flies.

We decorated our house during Thanksgiving week to be ready for the baby shower we had for our daughter Meighan last Saturday. George and Joseph set up the tree early, and I spent Friday afternoon placing the decorations. It was quiet in our house, and a flood of memories accompanied each ornament that I unwrapped.

 

 

In many ways, our collection of Christmas ornaments represents the history of the family with its many chapters and volumes. There are plenty of reminders from when the kids were babies and from their early school days. Some are thematic collections from the years when the kids danced in “The Nutcracker.” A number of others represent special memories from trips we have taken. Symbols from our hobbies and favorite teams, and gifts we have received over the years are treasured parts of this collection.

Like heirloom photo albums, our assortment of Christmas ornaments could replay our family’s story. Over thirty years of memories are represented. Some represent the loss of cherished family members or the addition of new loved ones to our clan.

 

Angel: When my kids were little, there were so many child-themed ornaments on the tree that I decided to start collecting angel ornaments to add some classic beauty.  The one above, part of a set, is one of my favorites.

 

Ireland:
My dear friend Sister Roseann of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, godmother of my daughter Meighan, has done amazing needlework over the years. This special Irish masterpiece has a cherished place on our tree each year.

 

 

 Ravens Santa:
This Ravens Santa was the perfect ornament for these Ravens PSL season ticket holders.

 

Daisy: Our beloved pug has several special places on our Christmas tree each year.

 

Alaska Keepsake:
We collect Christmas ornaments from our travels and this moose is a fun reminder of the great land and sea tour we took for two weeks in 2004.

 

 

Las Vegas Santa and Mrs. Claus:
This fun ornament is a keepsake from the 2006 conference I attended with the NFCYM.
Can you imagine a ministry conference in Vegas? But what happened in Vegas couldn’t stay in Vegas, as there were so many exciting ideas and new music to bring home to share with my students. George flew out to spend the last few days with me, coordinating some great dinners, tours of the fancy hotels on the Strip, and arranging a fabulous helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.

 

 

Bicentennial Keepsake:
This 2006 ball is a wonderful keepsake from the 200th anniversary of my very favorite church of all, our Basilica of the Assumption here in Baltimore.

 

 

The Nutcracker:
My kids all danced for years during their childhoods and early teen years in the Nutcracker with Harford Dance Theatre at Harford Community College. This show consumed so much of our time from September to December each year. We made lots of dear friends and collected lots of Nutcracker-themed ornaments and accessories that we still cherish today.

 

 

Florida themes:
Our tropical ornaments remind us of our home on Singer Island near West Palm Beach.

 

 

“Jesus is the heart of Christmas” and a John Carroll jingle ornament are perched near another Nutcracker-themed keepsake.

 

Teddy Bear:
One of the many personalized ornaments from my kids’ childhood years is this 1987 teddy bear for Joseph.

 

 

This little kangaroo is a reminder of the two week trip in 1985 to Sydney, Australia when Meighan had just turned a year old.

 

Merry Christmas from Heaven:
George and I lost three cherished members of our families in 2007:
George’s Dad, along with my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother.
Their names are on the reverse side of this memorial ornament.
 (which we also gave as gifts to several family members that year.)

 

 

And so goes the circle of life:
“What will you wish for?”
This wonderful 2011 gift has a delightful recording of our then-4 year old grandson Tyler’s voice saying:
“I wish for Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop to have a Merry Christmas!! I love you!!”
What a treasure to be able to still hear Tyler’s voice from when he was a preschooler.

 

Our First Christmas:
This sentimental favorite for George and me from 2002 brings back plenty of wonderful memories from our engaged Christmas, ready to be married in January of 2003.

This year marks our 12th Christmas together. So many blessings.So much grace.

As we enjoy the lovely lights and decorations on our Christmas tree this year, we will be remembering all those people and chapters of our life that are represented…. And give thanks to our loving God for all his grace and blessings.

 

Blessing for the Family Christmas Tree

Leader/Parent: Loving God, we stand before you once again. We stand here ready to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus.

(Have everyone extend a hand in a gesture of blessing. Sprinkle water or holy water on the tree while praying the following prayer.)

Leader/Parent: Bless this tree, this sign of life and freshness and perseverance in our midst. It stands as a reminder that you are born anew in us each day. Bless our family and friends as we celebrate this joyous season. Keep us safe in our travels, kind in our conversations, and gracious in our giving and receiving. We ask you this in confidence, because we know you love us.

All: Amen.

Note:
Another beautiful blessing for your Christmas tree can be found here from the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ website.

 

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.