When my family and I take our Christmas decorations down, I always leave my two favorite decorations for last: our Nativity set and Christmas tree.
I love keeping my manger scene up after all of the Christmas rush, parties, meals, visits and general holiday busyness have subsided. I enjoy being able to reflect deeply about the wonderful gift that Our Father has given us — his only begotten Son. It is such a simple scene, it is such a peaceful scene, and it is such a magnificent scene. There is nothing in this world that can diminish this simplicity, peacefulness and magnificence, unless we allow it to.
As I grow older, I find myself becoming more reflective and introspective. When I was removing the ornaments from our live Christmas tree, I started thinking about the importance of this evergreen. Two or three weeks before the “big day”, we brought the tree into our home. Immediately, it filled the air with a beautiful, fresh scent and it became the center of our celebrations. We adorned it with lights and special ornaments and topped it off with an angel. We relished its beauty and gazed upon the ornaments with fond memories. We sat quietly in the evening, enjoying the soft glow of the twinkling lights. We nurtured it with water (when we remembered) and really didn’t pay too much attention to the few needles that fell. Christmas came and went. The tree started to lose its vibrancy and its needles. But it was still the center of our New Year’s and after-Christmas celebrations. As I removed the ornaments from the tree, it hit me: This tree is similar to our deceased loved ones’ presence in our lives.
Like this beautiful tree, our loved ones were like a breath of fresh air in our lives; they may have been the central “fixture” in our celebrations, trials and joys and quiet moments. We shared memories, we appreciated their beauty and nurtured our love for them. All the while, our Lord watched over them, just as the angel atop the tree, and made them even more beautiful.
To me, the ornaments represented the treasured memories I shared with my loved ones. My memories were not buried with my father. They are still very much a part of my celebrations, joys and quiet moments. I can take them out anytime I want. Those memories invoke such feelings of love, gratitude, and yes, sometimes, sadness. But they are my memories.
I felt a little less melancholy about taking down our Christmas tree this year. The new memories I created with my family and friends during this Holy Season will remain, long after the last decoration is put away.
As we begin a new year, I am pleased to remind you that our family at Catholic Cemeteries Association is here to serve you . We pray for comfort and peace for you and your family.