It has been a powerful year, full of challenges and change. I was surprised to find our angel tree topper unscathed when I unpacked her. You see, she too had a year full of challenges and change. She survived another year stored in the belly of our boat as we moved up and down the Esast coast and the Bahamas. In the fall she was uncerimoniously transfered from the boat and joined the dust covered pile of boxes in our storage closet. We are solidly settled in our home on land and looked forward to unboxing all our older decor from the years we were not on the boat…but I braced for the impact. Firstly, WOW…I had no idea just how much Christmas stuff I had accumulated over the years…Second, YAY for most of the items surviving thier years long slumber and neglecful storage. But for me, each year, unboxing my angel is a breath holding moment.
She is fragile, and more so each year. I was fully expecting the need to repair her once again…I honstly would not be shocked to find her a melted, crumbled mess. But there she was…intact and perfect. Well, as perfectly imperfect as always. Her head still tilts at an awkward angle, the super glue necklace is still a startling reminder of past decapitation repairs, her hair is even thiner if that is even possible and her velvet dress is dull and missing more trimmings….but I still love her. I love the way she reminds me of my childhood. I love that she reminds me of the beauty that is found in imperfecton. I love that she reminds me of the impact of the pasing of time. This year I am even more mindful of her fragility. I believe this last year the world has seen the fragility of life on full display.
She is here, awaiting the arrival of our daughter (who traditionally gets to put her on the tree, something that has become progressively more difficult now that her dad can no longer lift her up). After years of residing on top of a small tree made of crab pot wire, she will grace an actual tree. It has indeed been a powerful year…there will always be challenges and change, but it is good to know some things will always remain the same. Here again, the annual retelling of “The Christmas Tree Angel”. Merry Christmas dear friends and family.
I’m not sure where she came from. (update: someone recognized her and informed me she is a Nuremberg angel!) I’m not even certain of her age. (update: As a Nuremberg angel, we probably acquired her when my family lived in Germany when dad was in the Air Force…this would make her well over 50 yrs!)
She sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season. I acquired her from my mother many years ago.
Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches. Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off. Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form. Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders. A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.
Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand. I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate. Those qualities are now faded. Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat. It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right. Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand. Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say. I like that about her.
She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place. But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas. Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.
I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn. I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time. My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin. I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head. I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family. I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer. I love her imperfection. She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.
A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.