A couple of days ago I had a party in this room.
We ate food and laughed and told stories and had an intense discussion on Christmas trees.
Important, thought-provoking questions like:
Should all the ornaments match?
Should you put up the crumpled snowflake ornament with the few remaining pieces of glitter on it that your child made in second grade?
Should you let your kids put up the ornaments on the tree?
Should the tree be just pretty?
Or should your ornaments have a story?
I like my trees pretty.
I like sparkly ornaments and shiny glittery lights and trees that sparkle with a little coordination.
But my heart?
It wants more than just a pretty tree.
So tucked in amongst all the pretty are ornaments from all the Christmases past.
Ornaments that make you laugh.
And tell their story.
My husband and I were married right after Christmas.
It was an amazing wedding full of roses and green taffeta and blue eyeshadow and aqua-netted hair and all the Christmas trees from the side of the road that people were getting rid of that my mother dragged into the church to decorate the stage.
The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of preparations and fittings and tastings.
A couple of my mother’s friends got together and decided to host a couples Christmas ornament shower for us.
Christmas and wedding and couples and ornaments and hot chocolate all in one.
So my future twinkling-eyed husband and I made a list of all our closest couple friends.
We invited a dozen or so and everyone was supposed to bring an ornament to help us start our life and our Christmas tree together.
The night of the shower we were so excited.
We wore coordinating Christmas outfits with matching jingle bells.
We arrived 30 minutes early to help the hostesses set out the chips and dip and fluff the Christmas tree and then we made small talk and sat in the living room and waited for the guests to arrive.
Except they never did.
In the totally saddest of Christmas news…
…no one came to our shower.
Not even one.
Later they all told me different reasons why they couldn’t come.
Someone was sick.
And someone had to work late.
And someone didn’t want to come without the rest of the couple.
It all made sense. Things happen.
I get it.
But in that moment, sitting on that couch with my future husband awkwardly staring at the Christmas tree and the chips and the dip and the ceiling and my hands and anywhere and everywhere except all those hostesses’ eyes staring at us with sympathy….
….it nothing but sad.
We tried to make the best of it.
I made a giant production out of opening the one shower present from the hostesses.
I exclaimed over the tissue paper.
And the ribbon.
And the packaging.
And oohed and ahhhed over the brass ornament with the two cherubs engraved with our names telling each other Merry Christmas.
I laughed and ate some chips and gripped my almost husband’s hand like it was a lifeline and tried to pretend like it wasn’t any big deal and that it didn’t really bother me.
But it did.
Inside I wasn’t sure if I could ever look at that ornament without crying.
And so it was that all these years later I stood in the middle of the dining room, decorating my tree with chalkboards and red ribbon and red snowflakes and tiny trucks.
All those perfect ornaments.
All the shiny.
And the glittered.
And the twinkling, coordinating, perfectly placed ornaments on the tree.
In the very bottom of one of the Christmas boxes…
….and I found this.
Tarnished. A little worn. A little aged.
But when I saw it?
I didn’t cry.
My heart smiled.
I was the winner on that long ago Christmas shower night.
All the while I was eating chips and making painful small talk and groaning inwardly and glancing at the door over and over and over again…
….I was holding the hand of my best friend.
His twinkling eyes never wavered.
It was as if he knew all the years and milestones and joy that stretched out in front of us. And that one day that shower would be a distant memory. And that tucked in among the ribbons and bows and shiny ornaments and snowflakes and glittery ornaments…
….two tarnished cherubs would still be saying Merry Christmas.