A young couple sit together in their tiny apartment discussing their decorating plans for their first Christmas as husband and wife. The ink on their marriage license is barely dry, having only been married for three months. They are both college students and their only source of income is from his part time work with his father and the generosity of their parents. Their bills are paid and they have plenty to eat but frivolous purchases aren’t made. Desire to make every experience special urges them to purchase a small tree only two feet tall. A strand of lights and a box of cheap wooden ornaments accompany the small tree back to the couple’s home. The young wife cuts a star from yellow construction paper and her husband fashions an angel from a paper plate. A decision can’t be reached on the choice between the angel and the star so the couple makes one of many compromises as husband and wife. The star is glued onto the front of the angel before they are both placed on top of the tree.
The same young couple travel to a Christmas tree farm and choose a beautiful tree to place in their home for their second Christmas. The earthy scent of the tree fills their home as they place the same lights and wooden ornaments on their tree. A new ornament is added to commemorate this year spent together. The young woman strings popcorn and cranberries to add as a garland for their tree. Memories are being made and traditions are being formed.
The couple now live in their third home. It is a small brown house two blocks from the center of their small hometown. A beautiful artificial tree is purchased for their new home. Pretty ruffled curtains hang on the windows of their home. A new living room suite, television, washer and dryer, a beautiful oak dining set and refrigerator have been added to their possessions since their last Christmas. A new ornament is added to their tree to honor another year spent together.
This year two ornaments are added to the Christmas tree. One ornament for the couple and one for their baby’s first Christmas. Each year they have added a new ornament to their tree. Popcorn and cranberries are strung by the young woman like many years before. This is a special Christmas because it is their first year as parents.
The couple built a new house this year. It is their first Christmas in the home they have dreamed of for so long. Two new ornaments are added to their tree.
A new baby graces the lives of the little family bringing with him new experiences and new ornaments to represent them.
Two trees grace the couple’s home. They live in their fifth home. Their two sons have grown. The oldest is a sophomore in college and the youngest is eight years old. Three ornaments will be added to a tree that is already filled with 27 years worth of ornaments. One of the cheap wooden ornaments is hung on the tree along side many others that have been added over the years. There is a birds nest with a dove nestled in the branches of the tree. It was made by the woman when she was nine years old. Beside the nest hangs a beaded ornament made by the man when he was nine years old. Ornaments that represent babies first years, tee ball, a trip to Disneyworld, a new job, graduation, the first year of college. A lifetime of memories fill the tree.
I came across that first star angel when we were decorating our tree. I have kept it all these years. It brought a smile to my face as I remembered how it felt to be 18 years old, sitting in the floor of that tiny college apartment cutting that construction paper star to put on our bare tree. God has blessed me more than I deserve. That young girl could never have imagined how full our Christmas tree would be someday, filled with the ornaments that represent the memories we have made together. Our Christmas tree has been ever changing like our lives. Someday soon our oldest son will move out and begin his life as we did. He will carry all his ornaments with him when he goes and his first Christmas tree will be filled with memories of Christmas past.