Friday, December 17, 2010

The Christmas Wreath

Forty-eight years of marriage equalled a Christmas tree whose branches were completely covered with ornaments . . . ornaments from the first years of marriage, ornaments for two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandson for each year of their lives, and keepsake ornaments from every trip they ever went on. Yes, I'm talking about the Christmas Tree at Gran and Pop's house.

Those ornaments and the stories and lives they represented were what made the Christmas tree at Gran and Pop's house so very special. And they're what made us all want to be there to help decorate the tree even if Gran hadn't decreed it to be so. Decorating always took a very long time because we had to retell the stories behind each ornament amid tears and laughter and, of course, bites of the Datenut Pinwheel cookies.

The first Christmas after Gran passed away Pop wanted to put up the big tree with all the ornaments and do everything just like we did when Granny was with us. Every Christmas after that, though, he only wanted a small tree and insisted we take the ornaments; but we just couldn't take them yet . . . we kept thinking he would change his mind and I kept thinking that magically Gran would be with us in person the next Christmas.

I knew deep in my heart that wouldn't happen, just as Pop knew. But, still I wasn't ready to take the ornaments from her special place in the attic. Those ornaments, as well as the big tree, stayed boxed up for 9 more years.

In October after Pop joined Granny in Heaven, I had an idea about just what to do with all of those precious ornaments that had meant so much to each of them . . . and I hurried about gathering all I needed to make my idea a reality.

On Thanksgiving night in 2004 after everyone was full on turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, I asked the family to go into the playroom and close their eyes. Quickly I brought out the boxes that held my surprises . . . Christmas Wreaths . . . one for each child and grandchild with all of their special ornaments bought for them by Gran and Pop over the years. I also included some of Gran's other special oraments like the snowflakes she had crocheted, an ornament from their travels, one of the many birds that would light on the tree, and some of her homemade decorations like the napkin rings she made. I chose, also, for my tree the little nativity scene above because each year, I would help her gather moss to fill the glass bowl that would house the nativity scene.

Oh, how the tears flowed as we looked at our wreaths and thought about the stories Granny would tell as we hung our ornaments each year. Granny's signature red plaid ribbon was used for the bows as well as some of the red ribbons she tied on anything that stood still for a second, sometimes including Pop!

We each have special places in our homes for our wreaths. And it is my prayer that as the grandchildren hang their wreaths each year, they will retell the ornament stories and how the wreath came about to the great grandchildren. I want them to know how much their great grandmama loved Christmas . . . not because of Santa or presents or even the parties she hosted; but because of the Savior whose birthday we celebrate on that wonderful day of days . . . the Savior whose presence she and Pop are in tonight.

Mimi's Christmas Wreath hangs on my bedroom door so it is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see as I wake each morning. As I walk past it, I can't help but gently touch each ornament, remembering . . . not just the stories of the ornaments or the tree that held them . . . but the love that surrounded all of us as we placed them on the tree . . . the love of parents who made sure we understood why and who we were celebrating on December 25 . . . that we knew . . .

Jesus is the Reason for this Season!

My wish, dear children, is that you would NEVER forget this truth or get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of all the other things you all do to make special Christmas memories with your own children to not take time to stop, watch the twinkling lights on your trees and feel God's presence with you.

Love, Mimi


  1. What a sweet post, Mimi. I love your idea, and I know the wreaths are treasured in each home. Your thoughtfulness will bless generations to come just as your Gran's did! I know you wrote this post for your children and grands, primarily, but I am thankful for your reminder, too, to be still and be grateful for Jesus, the newborn King.

  2. O, Mimi, this one made me cry. I am so on the verge of tears throughout the entire Christmas season because I miss my parents so much. I am almost 73 but you never get too old to miss your mama and daddy.
    Your idea of the wreaths is just wonderful. Great idea. I know they all will love these lovely memories forever.
    Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, my sister friend.
    xo bj