Some of our Christmas ornaments. They were all over the dining room table after Christmas last year and I dusted each one and packed them away. So many precious memories are in these ornaments! I’m looking forward to enjoying these glittering little pieces of our past again.
I made the quilled snowflake in 1976. The styrofoam ball with blue sequin letters JULIE was made by a friend of my parents in 1966. I made each of my children a paper shoe from a pattern fashioned after a vintage baby shoe in 1986.
The ship was made following the directions in The Decorated Tree, my all-time favorite Christmas craft book, by Carol Sterbenz.
My dear Grandma made the sweet sleeping baby doll many years ago. She made one for each of her grandchildren.
My sister Donna made the tiny mandolin.
I made the embroidered circle and heart ornaments from leftover wedding gown material for our first Christmas.
My sister Suzanne made the little red sled with painstakingly-wrapped teeny gifts on it.
My mom made the ceramic dove.
My sister-in-law made the real popcorn and wire wreath in 1980 and every year we’re amazed that the popcorn survived another year!
My mother-in-law gave me the vintage baby doll in a black tulle clown costume.
Not shown, but will surely be on our tree: the foil covered styrofoam ball with a little bite taken out of it by one of our babies, the plaster of paris wreath ornament made by one of the boys that is so heavy we have to hang it near the trunk on a really sturdy branch, the beaded ornament made by my husband when we talked him into joining our family ornament-making evening and many more. Themed trees are pretty but we have a small house and only one big tree. I admire exquisite decorator trees for their artistry but enjoy the old history of ours too much to ever change.
I’m hesitant to pack away one of my favorite Christmas decorations… The Bell Tree.
It’s a little fiber optic Christmas tree, won at a company Christmas party years ago. We display it on a cabinet in the corner of the dining room. It’s not the fiber optics that makes it special, it’s the bells.
I’m not sure when I started collecting. There is the jingle bell from The Polar Express gift book set, a rusty bell from a box of junk purchased at an auction, a card of tiny bells from my Grandmother. Some bells I’ve had since childhood and I don’t even remember where they came from.
Years ago I bought the coolest set of bells from a local craft store. They are all wired together on one electric cord and at the flick of a switch, they play Christmas Carols. Each bell actually dings in harmony when an electrical signal is sent to the clapper, which strikes the side of the bell. Such sweet music! Real ringing bells! I absolutely love the bells, although my sons can only stand the music for a certain amount of time and then they tell me their ears ring.
In order for any bell to sound clearly, it must be hung so nothing impedes the vibration of the clapper on the metal. I decided the perfect place to hang my electronic bell set was on the fiber optic tree. Soon I added other bells to the tree and each sounds beautiful when rung.
This year, I finally got a piece of burlap and made a special covering for the cake plate on which the tree stands. This way I can hang the bells that are too heavy for the fiber optic tree branches. There is plenty of room for more bells. I’m now on the hunt for a titanium bell, if there is such a thing, which will be my all-time favorite. Here is why…
Three days before my scoliosis surgery (which you can read about here and here), it suddenly occurred to me that a lot of metal hardware would be placed inside me. I’m not sure why I never thought of it before. The thought was frightening. Metal is smashed soda cans in the recycle bins, rusted automobiles swallowed up in weeds. Metal is pots and pans in the cupboard, something hard and intimidating, scratched and dented. NOT a part of a human being.
I barely formed the unsettling thought in my brain when my Lord answered my confused fears. He reminded me of the scripture in the Bible that says:
And when he came near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Teacher, rebuke your disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. – Luke 19:37-40
If mankind stopped praising God, instantly the rocks would cry out. As I pondered this, it occurred to me that the molecules from which my metal hardware was formed could be capable of praising God.
That thought was amazing and too marvelous for words. I stopped what I was doing and rejoiced that, theoretically, the hardware that would be placed inside me would be capable of praising God. I thought “I can do this. I can accept pieces of metal that are capable of praising God!”
Then I thought “What if… what if those molecules that came from the earth’s depths, forged into metal, fashioned into hardware that would be placed inside me were destined to help me from when the world was formed? If that is the case, then they belong with me! I am actually welcoming them home!”
From that instant on, all my fears of having almost three pounds of titanium rods, bolts and screws placed in my spine vanished. My surgery was simply a way to make myself more complete, a way to welcome the rest of me home. I am at peace.
And now, instead of thinking of metal as crushed cans or rusted cars, I think of it as bells, ringing and rejoicing bells.