When I graduated from high school, I began getting serious about my ornament collection.
I mean, I’m sure you understand. All 18-year-olds need to really get focused on the important stuff, like making sure you are well documenting your life through the medium of Christmas ornaments. Also, there is something grown up and forward thinking and very mature about starting an ornament collection. Or so I believed therefore so I did.
For the last fifteen-ish Christmases, my ornament collection has grown. Particularly during my mid-twenties, when I owned my first house and was building my adult life and buying lots of home decor things with my extra spending money because who needs to have a savings account anyways? I accrued ornaments that meant a lot to me.
It’s not that each one has some emotional story attached, though some do. I just have a bit of a rose-colored-glasses view of that season of my life. I thought marriage and family were just around the corner and here I was setting up a home that would soon hustle and bustle with lots of stockings hanging from adorable hooks on my mantel. Those ornaments, the Atlanta Falcons painted ball, the #1 teacher star from a 4th grade student, the lace angel, remind me of a time in my life that was full of dreams.
They remind me of when I really started to grow up.
I kept each ornament individually wrapped and stored in a large plastic container, safe from all harm.
Or so I thought.
Until the Sunday after Thanksgiving when I headed down to the basement to retrieve the box of ornaments and what to my wondering eyes should appear?
All of them.
Wet. Molded. Stinky. Gross.
I’ll spare you the details of the situation, of how they got wet and managed to remain in some sort of soggy state since the summer [Yes. The summer.], and how I ended up throwing away over half of my Christmas decor in one evening’s purge.
Are you cringing? Is a little piece of you crying and looking over to your tree with a heart full of thanksgiving?
I know. It’s awful.
But in some ways, it’s okay. In fact, in some weird sense, it was good for me. Those ornaments were purchased to build a life that I never had. And every year, as I hung them on the tree, I remembered that.
Two nights later, after the discovery and the purge, the college small group I lead arrived at my house and they each handed me a brand new ornament. I couldn’t contain the tears. While there was nothing wrong with the old, the old was gone. And here were the new – ornaments that speak of my current life, almost every one covered in glitter [it is my favorite color after all], and representing who I am, not who I wish to be.
This year, my tree celebrates a life I love – the good and the bad and the sparkle – instead of a life I want. And I think this is the better way.
PS- I learned how to clean molded ornaments. Just, you know, in case you ever need that kind of information.
By Annie Downs // AnnieBlogs
ABOUT ANNIE DOWNS
Annie Downs is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of our great God. Annie has been telling stories her whole...