A couple of years ago, an ornament was placed on my Christmas tree that has since become one of my favorites. Not because it was expensive. Not because its design is intricate. This ornament has a much deeper meaning. Deeper than you would expect from a decoration made from a piece of notebook paper.
My Christmas tree is full of small stuffed animals and angels. There is a stuffed animal for each of my grandchildren – 13 – and they nestle in among the branches and then the angels hang more towards the ends of the branches as if protecting and guarding those precious stuffed animals.
This particular year my just-turned 5-year-old granddaughter was at my house a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was the first time she had seen the stuffed animals in my tree and she was fascinated with them and determined to find which one had her name on the tag. After taking every animal into her small hands, turning it over to find the tag and looking for the recognizable “R” that begins her name, she finally found hers. And she loved it.
And …. she wanted very badly to take her stuffed animal home. She begged and begged. I finally said, “If you take your animal home, I won’t have anything to remember you by. Then what will I do?” I thought I had finally satisfied her with an appropriate answer. I mean, seriously, who wants their Grandma to forget them? Especially at Christmastime?
However, I was mistaken.
Later that day, as I walked past the tree, something white caught my eye. When I went to look, I found this resting on a branch of my Christmas tree. A branch that I’m pretty sure had once balanced a stuffed animal on it.
My granddaughter figured out a way to not only enable her to take her animal home for a while but also for me to remember her! How smart is that! When Christmas Day came, I unwrapped a present from her and found inside her stuffed animal. I took it home and placed it back in the tree but I left her place-saver.
And so now every year this paper is in my tree. When I place it there, I not only remember Reagan, but I remember lots of loved ones that are no longer within my range of sight or voice but are most assuredly a part of who I am.
They say that people come into our lives for a reason. At a time and in a place we have arrived at and need them most, even though we may not realize it at the time. And I guess if that is true then the opposite is true as well. People leave our lives for a reason. At a time and in a place we have arrived at because they were in our life and our ways part.
Thankfully we are left with our memories.
Merlin, the magician: “What will I do without you?”
Kilgharrah, the Mighty Dragon: “You will remember me.”
(From Merlin the TV series)