Each Christmas my children received a dated tree ornament that represented the year. Reasons varied, like a favorite movie, a milestone achievement, learning a new instrument or moving to a new home. Our tradition was to exchange ornaments on Christmas Eve after reading The Tale of Three Trees and the Christmas story from the bible. Through the years, it was always my plan to give each child their ornaments when they got married or bought their first house.
I have just given a child her life’s ornaments.
I imagine her hanging them on the tree and she explains to her husband what each represents. Some of the ornaments are 27 years old, so I imagine her comprehending she is holding her history in her hands as she hangs the crocheted angels her grandmother made the year she was born. I know as she ages, the ornaments will increase in meaning each year as they continue to intersperse with the ones she will collect with her new family going forward.
New ornaments arrive each year.
The first ornament to go on my tree this year was this sweet bird. A dear friend hosted a prayer shower at her home a few weeks ago for my daughter’s wedding and marriage. Each person who showed up for brunch prior to prayer found this delicate ornament on their plate. I will never forget the friendship exhibited by friends showing up and prayers said for my daughter.
Another ornament making its debut on the tree is an oak leaf with a tag on it stamped OGB, which stands for One Gritty Blink. I took a leap of faith and created and facilitated a bible study this year that forged new friendships, bolstered my faith, and was prayerfully used by God to mature others in their faith (Colossians 1:28-29). A group of ladies that stood alongside me every step of the way gifted me with this ornament at the end. It will forever mark June 2020.
Some ornaments are dusted off for display.
My husband and I now have more ornaments than can ever fit on one tree, and fill several boxes. Each year I rotate what box I pull out so I never put the same ornaments up two years in a row. This year I grabbed a box I don’t believe has been opened in five years.
As I hung the ornaments in the dim light of evening, I kept taking pictures and sending texts. I hung a sand dollar ornament from my friend’s daughter’s wedding 15 years ago. I hung an ornament from my dad from 23 years ago, dated in his handwriting with a nickname only he calls me. Surprisingly, I hung an ornament from the year we got one of our dogs, Licorice, then about ten minutes later found an ornament from the year she died. We had her twelve years.
Ornaments help us remember.
In many ways, ornaments are our family’s “Jordan stones.” When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “…’Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”…When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord…So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Jordan 4:1-3,6-7)
The greatest reminder of all.
As we show ornaments hanging on evergreen branches to our family and friends, recounting the goodness of God in our lives, let’s not forget to talk about Jesus who died on a tree to give us everlasting life.
Picture Explanation: Our Jordan stones.
© 2020 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
Loved this one, Momma. And I’m truly grateful for your thoughtful, precious ornaments every year. Can’t wait to celebrate with you soon!
Ah, my dear, someday you will be handing ornaments off too. Someday they will be hanging them on their trees.
The best thing you are handing your children is a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, as tangible as ornaments in our hands. Nothing wispy or figurative about it. I am proud of you and thank you for passing the baton to the next generation.
See you soon, Lord willing.
This was such a lovely post. My grandma always did something unique and special with her trees. I regret not having pictures. I try to do something different every year in hopes that one day. That In doing so my kids would have special memories with each passing year. They are boys after all so they will probably only remember the cookies. Merry Christmas
I know enough about your boys to know they are remembering far more than the Christmas cookies. All we do is being absorbed. ALL.
I wrap our pantry door in Christmas paper every year and tape Christmas cards on them as they arrive. It is usually the first thing I do. Just provides a splash of Christmas cheer to the house and gets me going. When my son came home from school the day I started decorating this year, he put his hand on the wrapped door still waiting for cards and said, “It’s Christmas!” I realized my habit had also become a trigger for him that Christmas is near. I suspect he will wrap a door too.
Let’s walk with Jesus very closely. Let’s tend well to the hearts of our family. Nothing is wasted. Nothing.
This post helped me remember the many Christmas’ I had with my family when there was little room for all of us to fit. Beautiful to think about those times. Thank you my friend for bringing the memories forward and making me smile.
My pleasure, April. I am imagining your family tucked tightly together in a little room on Christmas and smiling too.
This is a really beautiful post, Laurie. It is wonderful that you have collected ornaments all these years for your children and that you have the wonderful pleasure of gifting them to one of your daughters this year! I too enjoyed sharing some of our ornaments with our daughters in the last couple of years. I look forward to seeing them on their trees some day!
Perhaps this year with COVID, we will slow down a bit and have more time to reflect. I feel each year as Christmas arrives that I’ve barely thought about the Christmas story and certainly have not done enough reading of the gospels! This year, I am reading through the gospels. I’m not glad that I won’t be with my girls for the holidays, but I am glad that the pace is a bit slower and less crazy and less distracting (although for you that hasn’t happened yet with a wedding coming up, and that may not be the experience of your readers!). May He be glorified in far more hearts this year during this unusual time. He suffered to take away the curse of sin which includes the suffering of illness, loss, and death. In the midst of the hardship, may we rejoice in the one who left his throne in heaven and became a human being so that he could save us and deliver us until the time we are finally HOME!
Though I am busy, the slower pace of COVID has not been lost on me either. Less time in the car, less time in stores. The pandemic has hopefully served as a reminder to us all that we actually control nothing and our plans can change in a moment. Hopefully people all over the world, like me, have had their eyes look up and their hearts bow down.
When I put the large Jesus ornament dead center on the tree, it was a purposeful move. When I placed the nativity dead center in the living room, the same. Jesus is the reason. Through Jesus, all good things occur, whether we realize it or not.
I loved this post. It is so good to take the time to remember. Two Springs ago I compiled a huge jar with river rocks with events and approximate dates and Bible verses that were significant in my life that God brought about. I spoke about it at a women’s event that year about the importance abou taking time to remember. I used the same scripture in Joshua as my foundation. Laurie your name and date were one of those rocks which I placed in my jar of rocks of remembrance.
The fact that my name is on one of your river rocks from my college years before life took me on a wild ride brought tears to my eyes this morning. I am speaking truth. I have tears in my eyes right now, my friend.
I didn’t know anything back then, but what I did know I was sharing with anyone who would listen, and God’s grace covered it all. He just wants us to walk with Him as best as we know how, even when we don’t yet know about our blind spots or cracks in our foundation, and to be available to share all He has done in our lives so far. He does not expect perfection, but surrender.
Young and old, new in Christ and mature, just give Him what you have each day and watch Him do something magnificent with it, because He is magnificent. We are like loaves of bread in His hands.
P.S. – And I really wish I had gotten to attend a retreat with you as the speaker! Wow. I know it was amazing.
The specific scripture that I put with your name on that rock was 2 Timothy 2:2. That verse will forever guide me in the people God has placed into my life to disciple.
I do this, too, with my 3 kids and as my mom did that with me. It’s a special tradition, isn’t it?!
I am so thankful you and I experienced similar ornament journeys. So special. In a sentimental moment while decorating this year, I told my husband if there is a fire, grab the ornaments because I can’t replace them. He then asked, “Hey, what about me?” We had a giggle. Of course I meant physical possessions.
Year after year, as my college age girls took over decorating the tree, childish ornaments that they had made or that I had given them got left in the box because they didn’t fit the overall design they were looking to decorate the tree with. Finally, this year, I said, ok: we can purge some of them; I mean, they don’t care anymore when they learned to ride a scooter; but I remember–the nervousness, the excitement, the thrill of achievement! And I see God’s faithfulness all over them. I got to explain about some precious ornaments from you, Laurie–mittens for my forever cold hands; the birth of Oaks Ministries. 🙂 But they were sure that the childish ones weren’t not worth hanging on to. Some I put back in the box for some later time when they relish the gift, the giver, and the memory; I kid you not though, there are a couple of plastic bags of “childish rejects” waiting in my car at this moment to donate. Even while sorting them out, I remembered one old saint saying, “Never throw away any Christmas decoration: it tells history.” I wouldn’t go that extreme, but she had a point! Hmm, I may need to re-check those rejects! ………. And, speaking of memory stones, does this year not deserve it’s own special commemoration of how God brought us through?! We may be bruised, we surely experienced degrees of loss, but, here we are! All praise to the Giver of Life!! We get to praise a sovereign God today!
Your story reminds me of my daughters trying on my wedding dress last summer and laughing. There went the dreams of one of them wearing my dress. Not even some of the lace?, I asked. The dress went to Goodwill. It’s all good. There is always a line between our plans and our reality, different for every family. I am so glad they heard your stories about the mittens and the birth of Oaks!