Who doesn’t love A Charlie Brown Christmas? It is a timeless half-hour reminder of the deeper meaning to Christmas. My heart always breaks just a little bit when Charlie Brown unveils his scrubby little tree to his friends with the pride of innocence, only to be heckled and bullied. Then, in the true sense of piling on the “good grief”, the tree itself collapses under the weight of a fancy glass red ball. This is the literal depiction of how our lust for “pretty things” overtakes our love for one another during this most special time of year.
The Real Meaning of Christmas
While many of us get caught up in the commercialism of the season (GUILTY!), Charlie Brown reminds us that Christmas has a much deeper meaning. It is about faith, and community, and family. It is about celebrating the moments we have together, through the good times and the bad. Thus, my heart heals when the Peanuts Gang circles around Charlie Brown to sing “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” Even the most materialistic among us is capable of finding the true joy of the Season.
This year, Bruce and I have reflected quite a bit on the deeper meaning of Christmas. I suspect we all have thought more deeply about the value of family and faith and community this year. Let’s face it, COVID-19 has changed us all. I think Bruce articulated the meaning beautifully as he gazed at our Christmas Tree a few days back: “Christmas Trees are such a cool tradition” he observed. “Every year, we get to unpack our memories – from good times and bad – and hang them out as ornaments for everyone to see and feel and remember." Somehow, the ornaments from the hard times are more beautiful and special than the ones from the good times. I took Bruce’s statement to be a reminder to have faith and trust God to give us the strength to move forward, even when life seems too much to bear. This year, I have faith that we will look back on our ornaments from 2020 and remember the good that has come from this pandemic – the time spent quarantined with our families, the slowing down from our day-to-day lives, Joe Exotic and Dr. Fauci, plentiful supplies of toilet paper, and a new found respect for our nurses and teachers and scientists who have risked so much to help keep us safe.
Tour of Our Tree
Like many trees, ours is covered in a strange mix of memorabilia. It boasts fancy Radko ornaments, ordinary glass balls from Target, and handmade treasures crafted over generations. Each ornament is literally a reflection of a moment in time. We all have our favorites.
My mom’s is the set of British Soldiers my brother made out of clothespins when he was 10 years old. The paint is fading and the ribbons are fraying, but the sight of my brother as a boy toiling over these clothespins, carefully painting and gluing them until – one by one - they became little men, remains strong in mom’s memory.
Bruce’s favorite is a gold Radko School Bus. William and Emma picked this one out a couple of years ago after our beloved gold conversion van named “The Golden Nugget” suffered its first heart attack in the parking lot of a strip mall.
While we awaited a truck to tow the Nugget to the garage, and an Uber to tow us home, we stepped inside a little shop that had a huge selection of beautiful ornaments. Bruce was grumpy because the van broke down. I was grumpy because of what it would cost to fix it. Neither of us were interested in ornaments, least of all the $60 each variety. Then, all of a sudden, William and Emma came running up to us with a gold school bus ($59.99) and screeched: “Look! It’s the Golden Nugget!!!” The ornament looks nothing like our van (pictured above). However, the smiles and enthusiasm and imagination of the kids made it special. It now hangs proudly on our tree in the Car Section (next to a Mustang, T-Bird, pink Camper Van, and Camaro).
William’s favorite is this little white snowman that isn’t an ornament at all. It is really more of a “beanie baby” with a black eye and Texas Longhorn logo wearing a Santa hat. However, he loves the tradition of standing with his back to the tree and throwing the little guy over his shoulder to see where it lands. He's been doing this for at least 10 years now. William always says, “Wherever it lands, is where it is meant to be.” This year it landed somewhere between Willie Nelson and Stitch. Will (and the "ornament") are wise beyond their years.
Emma’s favorite ornament is a little paper Chihuahua with a pipe cleaner hanger on it that she cut out when she was seven (7) years old. That was a tough Christmas for Bruce and the kids, and money was really tight. Still, they managed to put together a beautiful little tree covered in handmade ornaments that we cherish to this day. Emma dreamed of having a puppy when she made that ornament. Now she has three. She hangs her Chihuahua ornament on the tree’s “Dog Park” section, alongside ornaments of each of our current dogs, and dogs we’ve loved before.
My favorite ornament also traces back to my childhood. When I was about four (4) years old, we had a craft project at school that involved making “snowballs” out of a white fluffy material topped with a green sequin. I’m fairly certain the material is asbestos that was banned by the EPA in the 1980s, but it hangs on our tree year after year after year. As an ornament, it makes no sense. The kids call it the “Cotton Ball” and insist on placing it front and center. I like that tradition because, when I was growing up, my mom always made me hide it in the back with all the other ratty ornaments. I’m happy the kids can see the simple charm in such a shabby reminder of years gone by.
In you are searching for your own ornaments, we have a few recommendations. We love personalized, hand-painted, and ornaments that represent a year or event in our lives.
1. 2020 36th Annual Christmas Bell 2. Rocking Horse Ornament 3. Koi Hand-Painted Ornament 4 Personalized City Ornament 5. Berry & Thread Teal Nutcracker Ornament 6. Ocean City Customized Christmas Tree Ornament 7. Holly Bell Gold-Plated Ornament
Here’s to you and your tree and your collective memories.
Lisa & Bruce (& Dolly)