O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Much pleasure thou can’st give me

Sometimes in the middle of this hectic season we love so well, Molly and I like to find a quiet spot near our Christmas tree listen to the stories our ornaments tell.
Our ornaments range wildly, from construction paper to crystal. With generous godparents who jumped in early, Molly has amassed the classiest collection in the family. Each year she scores another collectible and we will negotiate fiercely before she takes the ornaments away for her own tree.
St. Nick also brings all four kids an ornament each year commemorating special moments, proud achievements and various sports.
Our Charlie angel is one of my favorites. Made of paper, he’s old now and a little tired. His tiny head has to be propped up by the trunk of the tree and his wings don’t always stay outstretched. I love this angel because it reminds me of the little fellow who made it some 20 years ago.
We aren’t so great with the visual arts in my family, but Charlie always managed to put together eye-catching work. When he was in second grade his teacher called me to school. It seems his poinsettia offended her. “May I see it?” I asked. “You can see it from here,” she said and she nodded sharply at a display out the door and down the hallway. Against the wall obediently lay 22 beautiful flowers. Smack in the middle an enormous red plant jutted out from the wall. It had roots with a worm crawling through and jagged edged petals on which rested a bee. To the naked eye, it did look hideous. I really loved that poinsettia, though, and the circle of life it portrayed.
Molly and I decorated the tree ourselves this year but we didn’t feel alone. The stories of all those ornaments and the people who inspired them joined us, and each year the party grows.
I hope to keep this angel, by far the largest ornament
on our tree,  forever to remind me of a clever little
artist and his unconventional work.
Hmmm. Not sure whose ornament this could be.
St. Nick does have a sense of humor though.
When she got this ornament in 1993, it was because
four-year old Katherine loved to walk around our house
with a basket on her arm singing the opening number from
Beauty and the Beast. She’s a nutty little ball of fun as well.
This is our oldest ornament, an heirloom from my grandparent’s
tree. The Little Drummer Boy always gets the place of honor, just
under the angel.
Our leg lamp ornament has inspired bitter debate
between Molly and me because one of us intends
to give a genuine leg lamp to someone on her
Christmas list and the other can’t seem to talk her
out of it.
We’re really hoping to add another one of these
to the tree next year. Go Pack Go!
St. Nick brought Molly this Anne of Green Gables ornament.
A few summers ago, Molly’s Uncle Steve challenged her to read
the entire Anne of Green Gables series. I joined her in this project
and we both spent a pleasant summer on Prince Edward Island.
St. Nick brought Charlie this ugly ornament to
commemorate his first year as a resident of
Illinois. I went to a cute little store that sold only
Christmas ornaments in order to find an Illinois ornament.
The shop owner told me she didn’t have one. “But,”
she said brightly, “Illinois means onion in Indian and I
do have an onion ornament.” Awkward. Thankfully, I saw this
Abe Lincoln ornament out of the corner of my eye, bought it,
and the shop owner and I parted friends.
We have an ornament from the North Pole, thanks
to a travel-loving Grandma who went there to pick
it out.
Notice anything missing from this picture?
Someone needs to stop admiring her tree and
get shopping. There’s not a single present under it.
Underneath all of those ornaments is a Christmas tree skirt my
Aunt Doris made 43 years ago. And on top is an angel she gave
me 25 years ago. Serenity sandwiches all the chaos in between.

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