Thanksgiving arrives this week. It is officially appropriate to put the Christmas tree up now. During this time period families everywhere are making their way up to the attic to drag the tree down, or crawling over the lawnmower to get to the boxes in the garage labeled “Christmas Decorations.” It’s nothing short of an adventure.
Every family has special decorations to adorn their tree. There is the crocheted ornament that Aunt Emma made. And there are Christmas tree ornaments made by a child out of macaroni and green construction paper. The glitter on it doesn’t look as good as it did it in 1989.
I have a dear friend whose family places what they refer to as “the ugliest Christmas Ornament” on their tree each year. Over the years my friend’s brother insisted that the ugly ornament have a prominent place on the front of the tree. And, of course, his sister wanted it on the back. (I happen to agree with him on that fine point of decorating.) For some odd reason that ornament stayed on the go during the Christmas season. It was constantly being moved from front to back.
The ornament was broken out this past weekend. But, it won’t be moved this year. My friend’s brother passed away earlier this year. He is not here to aggravate his sister, which is of course an important brotherly duty. The ornament has assumed a new place on the tree. It is carefully placed right under the angel. It now has a permanent home for Christmas each year.
And, the ugliest ornament has assumed a new role for this good family. It has become a symbol. It’s a symbol of love between a sister and a brother. There is nothing quite like it. And, it’s a symbol of hope during a season of grief and indescribable pain. It will remain a symbol of hope for years to come. Symbols are so important for families grieving during the holidays.
Who do you know who is spending their first Thanksgiving and their first Christmas without someone they love this year due to a death? Don’t ignore them. And, don’t act like their loved one never existed. I am anxious to hear all about the antics of my friend’s brother. (I might get some new ideas.) But most importantly, I want his life to be honored. I know her family will value their new symbol of hope this year. My prayer is that friendship will also bring healing and hope during a time that is very difficult.
Who will you reach out to during this important time of year?