Our house is looking quite festive now, and it’s thanks at least in part to our niece, Lorelai, who for the second year in a row has been on hand (along with her Grandpa Gall) to help us hang ornaments on our 9-feet tree. I’m not sure anything could be more precious than to observe Lorelai unwrap perhaps a hundred or more ornaments and exclaim with each and every one “O how beautiful!” or “Isn’t this cute” or “It’s so pretty” (and mean it with all her heart and soul.) Then she would go to the tree and carefully hang each ornament in its “perfect” place- all of which, of course, happened to be on the bottom third of the tree, so we eventually had to do some redistributing. But from her vantage point, the tree was perfect exactly as it was.
Another precious moment came when she was a little too exuberant while removing one of our Hallmark ornaments – Mickey Mouse and three friends about to go down a chimney – from its box. In an instant, the ornament had flown from her hand and crashed on to the top of the coffee table, which left poor Pluto literally beheaded. “I’m So Sorry,” Lorelai said . . . and we knew that she meant it to the bottom of her toes. Grandpa swept in immediately with a promise that he some Super Glue that would make things good as new – and in fact you can’t even tell now that it was ever broken. But oddly enough, I’m glad for the mishap because otherwise we would not have been able to hear Lorelai adorable, heart-rending apology.
But what I wanted to be sure and mention was a special moment that is captured in the above photo. Lorelai pulled a lovely hand-made ornament out of the box and brought it over to Grandpa for a closer look. “My mother made this ornament,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes . . . and you could see the wheels turning in Lorelai’s head as she tried to process the notion of her 77-year-old Grandpa had a mom. I’m not sure she ever really got her head around that, but she sure loved that ornament – and when I asked her to pose with it for a photograph, she got this rather earnest look on her face, as though she were grasping that there was something exceptionally special about this particular ornament (besides the fact that it was pink- her favorite color.) And as she stood there holding it, with her Aunt Kathy and Grandpa Bob smiling in the background, I realized that this was the closest we would ever come to a four-generation photograph in the Gall family.
And then I looked more closely at this lovely little ornament and tried to picture Esther Gall hanging it on their Christmas tree for the first time, however many years ago that might have been. A lot has changed about the world since this little ornament adorned its first Christmas tree – but one of the things which has not changed in all that time is our need for comfort – and our desire to hang bright and sparkly ornaments to herald the coming of another Christmas season – to provide a spark of extra light and joy and beauty as the dark and cold of winter descends. I hope this little ornament gave her joy all those years ago even as it delights us all these years later. And the good Lord willing, maybe someday Lorelai will hand this ornament to her own daughter to hang on some future Christmas tree – an ornament lovingly crafted by a great-grandmother she never knew but who obviously loved pink . . . and Christmas . . . and beautiful things.