Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Tree Walk Down Memory Lane

In the still of Christmas Eve morning, our Christmas tree brings light to the darkness. The tiny, brightly-colored lights twinkle and glow, symbolic of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

There's no unified color theme of red and gold, no movie theme with Disney princesses or Star War characters on our tree.

Each ornament on the Christmas tree holds a special meaning. Some celebrate the birth of a child or grandchild.

Some of the ornaments on our tree are reminders of trips taken to special destinations. Others are gifts from parents or siblings.

Among the most precious are those made with love by the little hands of our children or grandchildren.

There are many different ways to take a walk down Memory Lane. The scent of cookies baking, a few notes of a familiar melody or the taste of a longtime favorite meal all bring back memories of the past.

Each year, I enjoy a walk down Memory Lane while putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.

Theme trees are beautiful and a favorite among adults of all ages. But the child in me yearns for the joy found in
lingering over each of my favorite ornaments as I relive the memories they stir inside me.

Although I don't remember my first Christmas tree, the moment is forever captured in time -- courtesy of my Dad;s camera.

I slept through the excitement of that first Christmas morning. Since I was one of those screamy babies, that's probably a good thing.

Later Christmas mornings brought me baby dolls, stuffed dogs, a typewriter and my first camera.

They say you can never go back home and it's true in many ways -- especially for those of us raised in military families.

Home was many places, none of which is currently home to any of our family members.

The house I called home before I married and moved to Virginia 40 years ago is no longer home to the Atkins family since Mom's and Dad's deaths in June 2014.

The tall Christmas trees of my childhood were replaced with tabletop trees in recent years, and family Christmas celebrations moved from my parents' home to my younger brother's house as our family's numbers outgrew space at Mom and Dad's.

As I stood looking at my parents' Christmas tree on one of many post-Christmas visits back home, the sparkly glass ornaments took me back in time to the Christmas celebrations of my childhood.

Many of the same ornaments that hung on the Christmas trees of my youth adorned the small tabletop trees of Mom and Dad's later years.

In a similar way, the Christmas trees of my children's younger years -- filled with handcrafted paper ornaments -- have given way to Christmas trees with a mixture of memories from our kids and grandkids. Ornaments made with pride by our grandchildren hang side by side with baby's first Christmas balls from our grown children.

The first Christmas trees of our blended family years were filled with questions.

Should we have a real or artificial tree?

Which ornaments would make the cut and which would stay in the boxes?

How and when would we decorate the tree?

And who would decide where to hang which ornament? 

As the years passed, kids helped decorate the tree or not, as time permitted. Some years, they chose favorite ornaments other years, nearly all of the ornaments fit on the tree.

This year's Christmas tree brings back memories of ballerinas and soccer players, 
tiny babies and little toddlers, 'tweens and teens and excited grandchildren. 

The joy and wonder of Christmas is mixed with the sadness and sorrow 
of Christmas without our parents, now all together in Heaven.

Kid-friendly ornaments and Nativity scenes hang side-by-side on the Christmas tree. 
The reason for the season, the birth of our Savior.

Tomorrow morning, the excitement of Christmas will fill the air as our younger grandchildren open gifts here while our older grandson and his parents celebrate Christmas in Ohio.

Across the country, some of the Atkins siblings will gather together, 
celebrating the joy of Christmas past and the treasure of time with family. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May your Christmas be filled 
with joy, wonder and the gift of Jesus' presence in your life!