Sixteen years ago Joey and I married on the 23rd day of December. The date fell on a Monday night. We choose it because our siblings and parents were off work. We did not really want to make it a big deal. I think my dress was about $30, which we bought on the 22nd at Dillards. Our church friends gave me a darling little shower the week before the wedding. One of the gifts was from Mrs. Gaye Odom, who was around 75 at the time. She bought me a very racy little number, which she attached to a wreath and along with it was a little ornament from Hallmark making our first Christmas. I have no idea where the racy little number is, but tonight I unwrapped the little ornament for the 16th time. I smiled and thanked God for women like Mrs. Gaye in my life.
Our tree is not fancy. I actually bought some matching ornaments a few years ago to give the tree an overall cohesive look, but honestly our tree is a hodgepodge of love. We have ornaments the girls made in school. Most have pictures on them and I can see the metamorphosis of those precious faces I love so very much. I am thankful for teachers who took the time to capture memories for my family.
We have several traditions attached to our tree. Each time we travel on vacation we buy an ornament or two. Decorating our tree is a little memory walk through our travels from Disney to Washington, D.C. to Colorado. I chuckle at the precious ornaments I bought with my sweet friends, Monique and Kathryn, in Ruidoso, New Mexico. I remember Jacy and Kate crying over our sweet dog Marley dying on a vacation in Arkansas. I love the Pike's Peak ornament and the memories of a great trip with Stephanie Purdy. Each ornament allows me to remember how truly blessed we have been in our ability to travel.
Another tradition we have is we buy the girls at least one ornament each year to mark a special occurrence from the year. Of course we have the baby first Christmas ornaments, but we also have other fun ones. Jacy has one marking when she learned to read in Eve Frederick's first grade class. By second grade her teacher Jane Culivan had helped her learn to love to read the comics, so she has Charlie Brown ornament with Sally and Charlie reading the comics. Her middle school ornament is also Sally and Charlie with the teacher blah blah blahing in the background. Having taught middle school, I know they all hear us this way. Last year she finally fell in love with the best movie ever, A Christmas Story, so she received Ralphie in the Pink Bunny Suit and the Lamp ornament. She began high school this fall. I haven't bought her ornament yet, but I think I will be a little sad when I do.
Kaitlyn has a darling little labrador ornament marking the Christmas of 2004 when we bought Mayeaux's Cajun Noel or Ellie at our house. Ellie-girl moved into the place of our darling Marley, who left us on that vacation. Ellie loves Kaitlyn and waits for her each day to come home from work. Kate has two Cinderella ornaments, because she pretended half of her life to be a Disney character. She has a cute Sleeping Beauty ornament marking her first date. I haven't bought hers yet either, because I am not sure how to capture all of the changes she has had this year. She is a grown up and such a blessing. What do I buy to mark a beautiful soul?
My plan is to give each of the girls these ornaments as a wedding gift with the story of each ornament written down. However, I think I will be very sad not to have these treasures to place on our tree each year. I guess they will have to let me come help them with their trees.
I love Christmas even with all of the hustle and bustle, the season is always of time to reflect. The tree and all of the little pieces are like the stones in a labyrinth. I walk around and around the tree, placing each memory on the perfect branch. We laugh with each other remembering. Sometimes there is laughter and sometimes a few tears fall, but regardless we are so blessed. I am not sure where you are in your life this year, but know the child born in Bethlehem has precious memories of you and also great plans for your tomorrows. Mark your blessings. May God bless us everyone.
I am a teacher, which in a single word, sums up my passions and my belief in the future.