This one made me cry – as we journey through life’s hallelujahs, hazards, and hiccups, particular items may invoke strong emotion. Honestly, those moments seem random, but there it is. The object at hand may be completely intrinsically worthless – worthy of the burn pile – yet, touching it, holding it after decades may catch our breath as forgotten memories wash over us with tidal wave force.
Progressive Cattle Editor David Cooper Published on 25 November 2020
Somewhere in my teenagedom, I don’t know exactly what year, there came a rude awakening that I had done Christmas wrong.
I guess I was 14 and the last kid in the house. Mom had been divorced for several years, and all the kids grew up, married, made their own traditions and rarely came at Christmas. So it was left to me and Mom to pull out the decorations and put them on a haggard pine that was good, but never great.
Speaking truthfully, this had no delight for me. We were still hanging on to lights that didn’t work, bulbs that didn’t match and an old tinsel garland past its prime. Buying the tree was always an ordeal for Mom with our small car. Then there were the ornaments. I didn’t recognize half of them, and they’d honestly seen better days and needed a fresh start.
One by one, I started setting aside the old ornaments. One in particular stood out, a nutcracker figure made from swiveling Popsicle sticks. You could tell it was made by a child with careful colors and facial features, but it was barely hanging together.
I threw it on the table – and it broke.
When Mom came back and saw it, she asked what I had done. I probably said something silly and crude. But I do remember her picking up the pieces and beginning to cry – not a cry of anguish but one filled with weight and loss.
The nutcracker, she explained, was made by my oldest brother, part of a set from my older siblings long before I was born. It never dawned on my callow mind that a broken ornament was another reminder for Mom that her children were old now, and memories of a younger time were harder to keep. And now it was all there for me to see, and I felt ashamed.
Here we are at the end of 2020, a moment in history that gutted us and robbed us of memories, opportunity and dear ones now gone. Perhaps even worse, we are detached from one another, more contentious and less forgiving than we were at the beginning of this pandemic. And let’s face it, we weren’t exactly great before either.
To celebrate the Lord’s birth, we must follow also His message: “He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18 KJV)
However bad 2020 may have been, it doesn’t have to end that way. Follow the Master healer. Find ways to connect, to deliver, to mend, to heal one another. We each have some way to make amends.
As for that broken ornament, Mom helped me glue it together and put it back on the tree. When I inherited the old ornament box years later, it’s one of the few that remains. Some years I don’t hang it – just so I can make sure it’s never broken again.
- David Cooper
- Managing Editor
- Progressive Cattle
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