Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Only Ornament I Need

Rebekah confessed to me the other day that she really is not in the Christmas spirit, an interesting comment, because Timothy and I had recently discussed our high level of Christmas spirit this year, quoting Dr. Seuss' "The Grinch," about how, for us, Christmas will be coming without "boxes and bags" and how Christmas is "a little bit more."
Being a wise and discerning mother (wink), I immediately sized up Rebekah's plight. We kept very little when we lost our house, as we could take only a few necessities to my mother's and, thus, stored anything else we wanted to keep in a 10 x 10 storage unit, which we purged further when we rented the apartment last spring and consequently let the untit go (for financial reasons). 
So, basically, the lifelong possessions of four people are in a two-bedroom apartment. Anything Christmas went to Joshua's, Complaining? Hell, no. We still have what's important, our family in all its two and four-footed memebers.
This year, Timothy even bought a four-foot tree, on sale and with lights that were supposed to blink and don't but he was too "meh" to take it back - especially since Midnight is thoroughly enjoying climbing the darned tree. We have a couple presents under it from my mother, and that's it. The children and I celebrate our family Christmas on January 7, and it will be a stretch for all of us to fill even those traditional St. Nicholas stockings at a $20 limit per person. But that's not why we celebrate, and we rarely go nuts on gifts anyway.
But Rebekah is finding it harder to bear because she liked all the wonderful Christmas-y things we had done in the past. The boys would go to extrememes in decorating - inside and out - we did tons of cooking and baking, for church, for us, for gifts. To her, this year appears bleak.
So I challenged her.
Now that she's off work and school for a couple weeks, it's her turn to play 1940's housewife and make Christmas happen for the rest of us. She objected that she had no money. I knew that, reminded her of all the warm and fuzzy Christmas stories of poor people we had read in the past, and added a few conditions to the challenge.
No trinkets.
No presents.
Nothing, except inexpensive raw materials and what's inside these four rooms.
It kept her mind busy yesterday, and we talked last night and made some lists. Her plan will definitely keep her busy today. I can't wait to come home from work tonight and see the results.
So back to the ornament, the title of this post.
On Sunday, one of the women of the church approached me. Nearly a decade ago, Timothy, Rebekah, and I consistently and regularly prayed for three addicts (Matt, Frankie, and Jerry), two at our church and one for whom I was a medical and spiritual advocator. Two have since died addiction-related deaths, and one struggles with recovery.
The woman at our church is the mother to one of the three that had died. In the time we had known him, he had gone to prison twice (and we had attended his court hearings, Timothy, Rebekah, and I, and they were young), and we had the youth group write to him. Occasionally, he wrote back.
And his mother, on Sunday, gave us a homemade ornament with his photo on it, which she was distributing to people she felt were important in his life. And we were one of the recipients of these ornaments.
The simplicity of our little tree is not depressing. Without all the extras (and trust me, I love a beautifully decorated tree with all the treasured ornaments from years past adorning it as much as the next person), this "Jerry" ornament really stands out, a stark reminder of why we do this whole Christmas thing anway.
Truly, it's the only ornament I need.

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