The first Christmas after George and I were married, we didn't have any ornaments. Well, no, we had tons of ornaments. George's mom and grandmother both gave him an ornament every Christmas. I did not have this tradition in my family. The only thing I brought to the table was an owl ornament that Sara gave me the year we pledged Chi O (I still have it Sara, I love it!), and an Auburn "angel" made from a cotton plant (still have that one too). I think we received a couple of ornaments as wedding gifts. We got engaged right before Christmas and I think a couple of relatives on George's side wanted us to have ornaments that were our own for our first Christmas and thought ahead. But other than that, we were totally going to have the George tree. It wasn't so much the George tree as it was the George's mom and grandmother tree. And well, for obvious reasons, that wasn't too terribly exciting to me. So I went over yonder to Heartstrings, a cutie little boutique on College Street in Auburn that did Christmas in a big way with trees all over the store with different themes, and purchased me fifteen rusty stars. Oh, I was so excited about my rusty stars. And they were only 75 cents a piece!
Now, the sad thing about the rusty stars is that they really don't show up very well on a dark green tree. But every year I used to hang them first, evenly dispersed all over the tree, and each near a light so that it would show up better. And then over the years we have gotten more ornaments ourselves. George actually gets each of the children and me and ornament each year, which I think has the potential to be much less intimidating and irksome to future spouses than if I were doing so. Also, he gets them an ornament from a particular manufacturer every year so that while they are always each very unique, they are all similar in style, which also has the potential to be less distracting should one of the children find themselves having, or being married to someone with, a particular tendency toward OCD tree decorating (ahem, not that that disorder exists....). Anyway, the stars don't live on the tree anymore. Now, don't worry, the stars always find a home. Last year they hung from lengths of baling twine in the window. One even found a home on an old sap bucket. I am laughing wondering what you must think of my home with baling twine and rusty buckets and Christmas ornaments strewn about. Aww, my home. I miss my home. Anyway, this year, the stars have a new home. They are strung from one eighth inch red grosgrain ribbon above the mantle and in the kitchen window (with the red sweater kids Jessie sent me from Crate and Barrel). And it looks lovely, if I do say so myself.
That first Christmas of the millennium, the first Christmas we were married, was the Christmas we knew we were having Amabel. That was the Christmas we knew we were stuck with each other! We cut our tree down from the lot in front of George's old house. And we put it in the sap bucket that year, actually. Everything about that Christmas was ramshackle. Can you say something was ramshackle or do you have to use it as an adjective in front of something? Well, just in case, we lived in a ramshackle house (to say the least), we had something of a ramshackle relationship, upon finding that we would not "live happily ever after" without ever dealing with our own or each other's sin ever again. We had ramshackle furnishings and a ramshackle plan for our lives which did not, incidentally, include pregnancy whilst still students, five months into our marriage. And honestly, after graduating (George was the only one still a student at Christmas) and being effectively dismissed from my first job in a ministry that I really loved and wanted to be part of, I found myself feeling like a ramshackle soul. But if you have been to our home, you know that I like beat up things. I like rusty stars and cast off sap buckets and old crates from when the A&P closed and coffee tables with four layers of paint chipping off. I don't know, I guess, at least in part, it's that I appreciate that things that are rundown and entirely imperfect can actually be things of beauty. Some dull rusty stars can be lovely adornments on a tree amongst bright lights and elegant blown glass figures or happy reminders of the season strung up in a window. Isn't that the Gospel, in a very tiny and round about nutshell? God takes those of us who are beyond repair, and makes us usable and beautiful. And hurray for that!
Well, this ended up being way longer than I intended, and much more touchy feely too! I guess I just love my little Christmas stars.