It was the depression, and Mom and Dad were celebrating their first Christmas together. They saved their egg money and bought the Christmas angel at Doerr’s Big Store in Larned, Kansas. She was made of white angel hair, gold foiled wings and a sweet angel face with brown lockets of hair.
Dad would cut a cedar tree from the shelter belt and place it into a bucket of sand. He centered the tree on the window seat of the bay window, where Mom gently placed the Christmas angel on top of the tree.
They couldn’t afford gifts for each other, but what was important was their first Christmas together and they were so in love. They counted their pennies and bought a nativity set and placed it in the corner of the dining room. After all, the baby in the manger was the reason they celebrated Christmas.
The following years when they could afford more decorations, the tree was dressed in tinsel icicles and bubble lights. The silver tinsel was placed one strand at a time on the branches and removed carefully so it could be reused the following year. At the end of the holiday, the Christmas angel was lovingly packed away with the tinsel and bubble lights to be used again next Christmas.
It was ten years before Mom and Dad added children to their family. They adopted Dennis; two years later they adopted me, a little sister. It was a pleasant surprise when after sixteen years of marriage they gave birth to a daughter Deena.
The holidays were more fun with children. They saved all year long to buy gifts, and gifts were only given on our birthdays and Christmas. Throughout the years of our childhood, we were gifted with Lincoln logs, dolls, doll houses, teddy bears, little tin barns and animals, toy telephones and a sled on which to enjoy Kansas winters. Santa always came to visit Christmas Eve when Dad went to the barn to milk the cows. He missed seeing Santa every year.
As we grew, the gifts changed to pop beads, clothes, horses, and stereos with albums from Elvis Presley, the Lettermen and Ricky Nelson. Santa quit visiting. The ritual of a fresh cut cedar tree was replaced with a silver tree and a color wheel. The Christmas angel was still placed on the top, and her angel hair changed from red, green, yellow and blue as the wheel turned. The bubble lights and tinsel were packed away.
We children graduated from high school and left home. Mom and Dad were empty nesters so headed south for the winter. Snowbirds they were called. After I married, I dug the Christmas angel, bubble lights, tinsel and little nativity set out of the closet and took them to our home. They were placed on an artificial green tree.
Within three years, there were two little boys in our family. Santa never visited our home; nevertheless, every year when we returned home from the midnight Christmas Eve service, presents were discovered under the Christmas tree. Only the Christmas angel had been present to see how that happened. The boys enjoyed skateboards, GI Joes and Star Wars. As they grew older, they got bikes, walk mans, drum sets and guitars.
Grandma and Grandpa were feeble but managed to spend the holiday with our family. They loved seeing their Christmas angel on the top of the tree. It brought back fond memories of how far they had come since they started their life together in 1934.
After spending fifty-nine Christmases together, Mom was all alone. She flew from Arizona to Kansas to spend the holiday with her children and grand-children. She tried to hide the tears when she saw their Christmas angel atop the tree. She missed Daddy so much. She spent another eighteen Christmases wondering how much longer it would be before she could reunite with him.
Now, Mom and Dad are together and enjoying the choir of real angels. The Christmas angel will spend the holiday on a fiber optic tree – but is no longer stored in a closet.
While fixing my office and looking at the Christmas angel, I was visiting with my good friend, Norma. She shared, “Surround yourself with the things you love and don’t worry about the décor.” Now, the Christmas angel spends all year long sitting in my home office. I talk to her and share what is on my heart. I shed tears because I miss my parents that bought the angel over eighty years ago. I write and reflect on the fond memories of past Christmases and how I have celebrated every Christmas with this Christmas angel throughout my life. I explain to her that the most important thing to me is family – healthy and happy children and grandchildren.
Our two sons have their own families and now live a thousand miles away. I think of them every day, pray for them, and share with the Christmas angel the latest posts I read on face book. Because of distance, our church friends are like family. We celebrate the Christmas holiday with friends. Our Christmas Angel is always amid the celebration.