I have a friend whose Christmas tree is worthy of Rockefeller Center or Better Homes and Gardens. All her ornaments are color coordinated, her tree a perfect theme of gold and white, glowing with lights. It is a beautiful tree.
My Christmas tree looks like the fallout from an explosion at a craft store. There are salt dough ornaments, adorned pine cones, fading construction paper, and snowmen made from plastic spoons. I have felt, buttons, beads and decorated clay pots, and a good supply of glitter. I may have the only cardboard and felt hamster in existence, and it is patiently waiting for Santa in my Christmas tree.
What I have is a tree filled almost to the brim with love. There are ornaments commemorating a lot of special occasions, things my children created, and gifts from family and friends. As I put each ornament out, I remember the people who gave them to me, or the reason I bought them. I think of the stories behind the ornaments, and I have to admit, sometimes I tear up. I count these ornaments amongst my most precious possessions, each one a vessel for memories. Today I want to share the stories of some of the ornaments my students have given me over the last 20 Christmases.
Seventeen years ago, I read Alan Say's touching story, Tree of Cranes, to my first grade class, and then taught them how to fold a simple origami bird with a small square of Christmas wrap. Later that day, Natalie, Michelle and Rachael each made me an origami bird from manilla paper. These birds remind me of both the sweet girls who made them, and Say's book, and it is fitting that they spend each December perched together, deep within my Christmas tree.
My tree may not look perfect, but it is filled almost to the brim with love. As you enjoy this holiday season, which ever holiday you celebrate, I hope you both give and receive gifts of kindness, thoughtfulness and love, whatever form they may take.