We decorated our tree this week bringing out ornaments from my own childhood, ornaments that the boys brought with them from St. Louis when they joined our family, ornaments that have been gifts over the years from friends and family. Silly preschool and primary ornaments always take center stage on our tree.
And then we brought out THE ornament.
There is nothing overly fancy about this ornament. It appears to be a simple blue ball with a place to slide a picture into. The face smiling out is a baby girl wearing a Santa Hat. You might notice a button on the back, and if you press that button you would hear the voices of 6 children wishing you a Merry Christmas. Yes, 6. Our 4 boys, our precious Baby J and her uncle that was also with us two Christmases ago.
Last year, putting up THAT ornament caused me to sit on the corner of the couch and weep for hours, eventually just putting myself to bed with a "headache". This year, the tears came, but not enough to ruin the entire evening. But the ache is constant. The memories are constant. Memories of a Christmas season that was so much fun and so full of hope, yet with a beginning of a shadow looming over us all. I think, deep down, maybe I knew the pain that was to come.
And come it did. And now, those Ghosts of Christmas Past bring good memories, painful memories and a remembrance of one who is missing.
But you know, all those tears are worth it to have that ornament on the tree. I can't imagine my life without the pain and joy that were that time of my life. But God knows how hard it is.
This is the only "family" picture of all 7 of us from that Christmas I have. I found it on my husband's company website several months later when the mere sight caused a week of emotional breakdowns. We have innumberable pictures of the kids from that season, or J and I, or Shel and J but this is the only picture of us all. It means alot.