I bought myself a Christmas present. I've always wanted to make some sort of "family tree" where I could be surrounded by all our past and present family members. Some stencil of a tree on the wall with pictures as the leaves, or just a Christmas tree left out all year with family pictures as ornaments. But alas, in "Life with Autism" there is seldom time for such projects. I'm still working on getting family pictures in a stand up wall divider frame thingy that I bought months ago. I actually started to add some here and there, and my husband was like, "Don't take those pictures off, (that came with the frame) those people are like family now that they've been with us so long!
Well, I found this revolving ornament tree online, and knew I had to have it for my "project." It was perfect. For Christmas, the plan was to go and buy an ornament that to me, represents each family member. So that when I see that ornament on that tree, I would think of them. Then for the rest of the year, I would take the ornaments down, and replace them with a hanging picture of that person. I give myself about a year to get that done! Ok fine, two years......
But since I'm crazy, mad, weird me, I wanted to make it something more. I do not like the concept of funerals. I'll just blurt that weirdness of mine out there. Seeing someone in a casket the way they never looked in life, is just wrong. Saying kind things about them that 1) they can't hear, and that 2) you've never said to them when they could hear you, is just wrong to me. So the past couple of Christmases I have begun taking time to send a Christmas letter to those who came to mind as to being a special blessing in our year. A yearly eulogy if you must. Just sharing with them something that blesses me about them. I just, want those in my life to know how I feel about them while it counts. And what a gift that is to receive - encouragement from others.
It was such fun. Going out to the store and really thinking about the person who I would buy an ornament for, what would represent them, and then coming home to write a Christmas letter to them about why I chose that ornament and what that person means to me.
For our Christmas -- when my Navy-son and his wife came home after Christmas, I invited her family and ours over for our Christmas dinner and to do this Christmas project. I had 15 or so Christmas bags that had an ornament and a letter in it. I cut out enough strips of paper with numbers on them, one for each of us. After each number was written either "Past" "Present" or "Future". Meaning that when each drew a number, when it was their turn, they would share a story of Christmas past, Christmas present, or a hope of Christmas future. It was a time of "Old Fashioned" sitting around the campfire telling stories. Not doing anything, not watching anything, just listening. Just really getting to have a glimpse of someone else's life. Hear their story. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was. Such a time of love, laughter, and tears in sweet remembrances of Christmas past. Thankfulness of Christmas present and all who were with us. Some people who I've never really heard share any story, shared the most touching of stories. Some stories I had forgotten. When it was my mom's turn, she had Christmas past and shared about how one year as a single mom she couldn't afford a Christmas tree for my brother and I. I was working at the Dairy Queen, and she said one night before Christmas I knocked on the back door, she opened it, and there I was with a Christmas tree I bought for us. She said that was the year I saved Christmas. I had forgotten too, that one year many Christmases back, my father-in-law had written each of us a letter asking about our salvation. He had "Christmas future" beside the number he drew, and he shared again how it was his prayer that each of his children and grandchildren would be born again so that he would be with them for all Christmases in eternity.
After everyone shared their Christmas past, present, and future story, they could open the ornament from in the bag with their name on it and hang their ornament on my "family tree" while I read a letter to them that would be their gift from me, that shared why I chose that ornament for them. It was such a sweet time of lifting each other up.
My brother and his wife - the "Holiday Hug" Raggedy Ann and Andy ornament to symbolize their triumph over a rocky start to their marriage.
Perhaps the perfect ending was this last ornament. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" ornament that to the person it represented, represented the simplicity with which they live their life. That person has little money, few things, and whose clothes he possesses could probably all fit in one suitcase. That person whether they knew it or not, taught me how you don't need things. He has done well with only the few things he has. I want to be like that. I want Christmas to be that. Back to the basics. Old Fashioned. People sharing stories, not always presents. Memories being made, legacies being solidified in the stories told.
I thank Brandon for perhaps being the Angel God used to impress the Old Fashioned Christmas desire in me. When there are no gifts to give the child who knows not what a gift is, as the Drummer Boy sings in that beloved Christmas song --- you simply give of yourself.
"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
|And then... a few days after we did our "Old Fashioned Christmas" - Team Guppy 1.0 went out and came back with this cross ornament and a sweet letter to me - so that I could be part of the family tree as well.........|