Several years ago, Pier One had a Christmas slogan stating: “Décor that speaks to you.” It prompted a blog from me that I posted in my old blog space. This year, as our tree was trimmed, I felt the same stirrings. This is a slightly edited and updated version:
Dear Pier One,
I saw a commercial you aired a few days ago. Your new slogan for Christmas ornaments is “Décor that speaks to you.” The commercial encouraged us to buy new Christmas decorations if the ones we have no longer speak to us.
Tonight, after my husband and kids finished trimming and decorating, and generally having a blast, I assessed our artificial tree and smiled at the horrified look I would get from your “experts” on what Christmas should look like.
This tree is the same one we set it up in the reception hall of our wedding chapel. Since we got married the week before Christmas we asked our friends to bring to the wedding one ornament to help us decorate our first tree.
And they did.
By the end of the night, the little scrawny tree was glittering like any of the proudly displayed on your storefront. It was a joy to behold, mainly for all the love and good wishes it held in each branch in the shape of an ornament.
We still have those ornaments and have added many more over the seventeen years of our marriage.
To be honest, I don’t know much about the ornaments you sell, and I can’t afford most of what you have in your store, but I do know that I don’t need to buy your decorations.
My ornaments not only speak to me, they also touch me and tell me stories.
There is the silver disco ball we gave away as wedding favors and the snowman figures we gave to our wedding party.
They speak about the promise we made that day before so many witnesses to be together in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in the good times and in the bad times, and about the people who honored us by standing next to us as we made our vows to the Lord and to each other.
There is the one we bought on our honeymoon in New Orleans the night we saw Harry Connick Sr. (the famous Junior’s dad) playing in a hole in the wall where I sipped on a virgin strawberry daiquiri that turned out not to be virgin after all.
This one reminds me of the adventure that were our first years married when we could go anywhere and do anything because we were young and carefree.
There is the one for The Parents-to-Be that Matt’s parents gave us months before we knew Isabel was a reality.
I remember how this one brought tears to my eyes for it spoke of hope and promise. I look at my children today and this ornament now speaks to me about a family built on initial disappointment, lots of prayer, lots of waiting, and a God who keeps his promises.
I see the many Baby’s First Christmas ornaments that were given to us. Most of them pink, because Noah’s first Christmas was a whirlwind of moving, new church, and new life so he had only a few given to him.
They take me back to another baby’s first Christmas more than two thousand years ago, and my mother’s heart understands how Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
There is the one Isabel’s foster mom made for her when she heard Isabel had found her forever family. It is hand stitched with her name, and the year.
It reminds me of how she spent two months of her life waiting for her mom and dad to find her, but how she was loved and cared for by many people even before we met her.
I spot a globe in the shape of a baseball that was given to Matt by his beloved granddaddy, his name-sake and his hero, who is no longer with us.
It speaks of three generations of men who loved Jesus and chose to make their life’s work and vocation to make His name known.
Then there are the ones that belong to this new era of our lives like the Noah’s Ark with all the animals and Mickey Mouse ears from the trip to Disney we took not long ago.
They talk to me about the passage of time, how it flies, and how we move from one stage of our lives into another almost without notice.
I see a tiny wooden guitar carefully crafted by a friend from the first church Matt pastored.
It reminds me of our life in ministry, the churches we’ve served, the people we’ve loved, and the path that God carved for us to bring us to where we are today: the job that Matt was supposed to have all along.
And then we have the ones that speak of what Christmas truly means to us. The ones that portray the Holy Family. We have several of those for those are the ones that speak the loudest to our hearts.
We have one that shows Santa Clause bowing to the Child Christ and one that shows a Christmas tree on one side and a cross on the other.
We have Nativities all around the house as well. We have wooden ones, metal ones, ceramic, and plastic. We have toy ones for the kids to enjoy, fancy ones that should not be touched, gorgeous ones that stay out all year, and the one we collect a piece at the time year after year.
These are the most valued decorations in our house as we try to teach our children in no uncertain terms what Christmas is all about.
Seventeen years of Christmas represented on one tree.
A tree that saw our beginning and which has been with us year after year.
Dear Pier One, if I were to change my hodge-podge of decorations for your beautiful, expensive ones, my tree will no longer speak to me.
It would be a silent, green, glittering blob in my living room with no history, no meaning, and no purpose.
I am sure it would be beautifully chic, but I think I will keep my tree as it is, and continue to let it serve its purpose as our family’s historian, reminding us Christmas after Christmas about the wonder that has been our family’s journey.