Clergy Clatter

January 2019

I’ve debated for the past few years whether or not to put up my Christmas Tree. When you live alone, it’s easy to set that sort of thing aside as “too much trouble.” I’m one of those strange people who assigns personalities to inanimate objects. And each year at this time, I think about the ornaments packed away in the lonely dark attic. And I think about how happy they would be to again see light and hang proudly on a tree. But then other stuff derails my thinking, and I’m off in another direction.

This year I had a new thought. My office window at Norfolk Urban Outreach Ministry is a large store-front window that goes from floor to ceiling. And it faces right onto a busy street. Maybe it would be fun to decorate my tree at the NUOM office where people come and go, and where traffic would see it. After a day or two of pondering, I headed off in search of a new prelighted artificial tree that would better fit my office space. Then it was up to the attic at home to bring down my ornaments and take them to the office. I caught myself talking to them excitedly as I dragged the boxes down my disappearing stairway. I told them how beautiful they were going to look in the big window at the office.

Over the next couple of days, I hung ornaments when I got a break from busy work. I have a lot of ornaments from a lot of places. I
have my mother’s ornaments, most of which have to be well over 100 years old. I have ornaments that I purchased as mementos of trips. I have many that were given to me as gifts, sometimes referencing a sermon, or a wedding, or some special event. I have some that I made, and some that I bought for pure whimsy. And I know the story behind every one of them. As I unwrapped each ornament, I found myself mentally talking to it, telling each one its history, and remembering the wonderful people in my life who had given me so many of them.

I don’t consider myself to be a very sentimental guy. But decorating my tree this year turned into a real journey of memories. And it was nice. It made this Christmas something special for me as I celebrated my memories through those ornaments. There are five little oil cloth animals that were given to me on my 1st birthday, but hung on the tree for fear I would eat them. There’s not much left of them, but they are on the tree again, and I am so happy for them.

My younger sister stopped by the office to see the tree and bring me a few more ornaments with a few more memories. We shared stories of many past Christmases, as she, too, had her memories. Sentimental, but nice. Maybe that’s part of the mystery and beauty of Christmas – remembering.

Richard+

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