Growing up the only non-Christmas-y family in the neighborhood, we were passed around each year, from one household to the next, with an invitation to decorate a Christmas tree. Mama would take the six of us to shop for the ornament that would be our family’s gift to the tree. Surrounded by shiny glass jewels of every color and design, we’d finally agree on the one. Choosing that one ornament to hang on a friend’s tree was our family’s Christmas tradition, and it was joyful.
Our boys grew up one of a handful of non-Christmas-y families in an entire town. As the status of minority was familiar, sending them to Ascension Episcopal preschool because it was in the neighborhood just made sense.
At Christmas, the church was decorated with a life-size manger and the preschool was treated to a tour. Both our sons experienced this, but it was Gideon, our youngest, who (according to the staff) was the only child in the entire preschool who correctly identified every single image within the manger. We were impressed, especially as the three kings thing isn’t the easiest to remember.
Walking the neighborhood with the boys at Christmas time and looking at everyone’s decorations was a nightly foray because the dog needed the exercise. Standing outside one home after the next, with Christmas trees lighting up entire living rooms, and listening to my children exlaim over the trees’ beauty, I wished just one neighbor would think of inviting my children to hang a single ornament.
With passing years, and not an invitation issued, I called a very nice family and asked if we might bring an ornament to their tree. They did me better – inviting us to dinner and afterward, to decorate the whole tree with boxes and boxes of ornaments and… tinsel!
Noah, Gideon’s older brother, made Christmas headline’s by winning the local newspaper’s annual What Christmas Means to Me essay contest, with a story about that night.
It’s years since this appeared, and our boys have long moved on, creating their own seasonal traditions. But our friendship with Mona and her family is like a special ornament, and one we cherish.
Oh, joy to one and all at this special time of the year.
Tie One On…an apron, of course!