At Christmas, we pull out things we don't see the rest of the year, little gifts from old friends, ornaments made by children, Christmas houses or wreaths or candles or stockings that mean nothing to another family. But to our family? They are priceless. They're part of a personal family story that only we know. Bought when we were poorer, and worn from years of use and many children, they look tattered and loved. I cradle each one before placing it in its spot.
Because I taught school and piano lessons, I received many little Christmas gifts. Somebody gave me this heavy glass ornament. I always hang it in a window. It's not really my style, but I've grown to like it. I've had it about 20 years. It's hung in windows in Iowa, Alabama, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Why do we lug these things around with us, from house to house?
And through that window you see out, into the world, but you also see back, into the reflection, into the past, and the flickering flames of our advent candles. Only two were lit, but the glass doubled the image. Doesn't the past do the same? Over the years, small events are kept and rehearsed, brought out like faded ornaments. Gradually they are made so heavy, so weighty with significance -- more so than we realized at the time. Which friend will keep in touch? Which small event will your remember as the defining moment of an entire year?
Life consists of layers upon layers. Eventually they blend into a whole, but during the harried years, the busy years, we can't see the bigger picture. What do you see below?
And there, in the middle of it all, is me, peering at myself and everything else, trying to make sense of it.