I’ve been cleaning up Christmas stuff this week. Slowly taking down the advent calendars and wreaths. Pulling down the fake evergreen from the mantle that is definitely past its prime.
Today I worked on the tree.
I love looking at our ornaments. My parents have foregone a tree in recent years, so some of the ornaments are from my own childhood. They are really dear. Stories accompany them, of course. Becki and I painting them. Chris repositioning them so that his toothpick-framed robin picture could have center stage. Etc. Etc.
Zoe’s stories are there, too. Photos of her as a baby. Ornaments made in preschool. Cinnamon/applesauce ornaments that Emily and I made with Vera and Zoe for their first Christmas, ambitious new moms that we were.
But the ornament that struck me most today was given to me not to be an ornament at all. It came in the door with a woman from our church who was part of the “survivor circle” a dear friend organized while I was going through chemo. She gave it to me because she too had gone through chemo and when she had, someone had given her an angel. It sat on her dresser. It was an icon of hope in her dark time. Only problem was that it was ugly. Really ugly. And, sometimes her life was ugly right along with it. But it wasn’t without hope. Somehow, even a really ugly angel still brings the hope.
So, this fellow-survivor told me, perhaps you need an ugly angel, too.
It’s too ugly for me to keep out year round as it was meant to be. But for Christmas, I hang my ugly angel on the tree with joy.
And remember the friends that came to me in my survivor circle.
And the beauty they were in our incredibly ugly time.