We began our December (and our Christmas tree story) by purchasing a small cedar tree for Clara. We will spend the next two weeks making Christmas ornaments for decorating this lovely little memorial tree, and once the holiday season has passed, we will plant it at the family cemetery near Clara’s headstone.
So far, we have two little bunny ornaments and an engraved brass ornament with Clara’s name and birth/death date, courtesy of McAfee Funeral Home, who handled her cremation. I bought the bunny ornaments many years ago, for Lakin and Addah, but they insisted that we hang them on Clara’s tree this year. I think they’re perfect there.
Our “big” Christmas tree is up and decorated as well. We were not able to put up our own tree last year, having just moved back from Texas to South Carolina, so it was very special to unwrap each ornament and remember where it came from. We have many handmade ornaments, made by the girls, David and I.
My favorite ornaments are the fragile hand-blown glass ones that I have collected over the years — snowmen and three little bluebirds on a branch.
I found the bluebirds in a shop in Brevard, North Carolina in 2006, and bought it to commemorate the first year that I was a single mom with two daughters. We were the three little birds, sticking together no matter what, huddle on a branch in the cold, us against the world. Now, as the mother of three daughters, I think of the bluebirds a little differently than I used to, but it is still my absolute favorite ornament.
I sat on the sofa last night with David, his arm wrapped around my shoulders. It was dark in the house, save for the Christmas tree and Clara’s tree. It was lovely: safe, comforting and peaceful. These things are in short supply most days, which made the moment all the more wonderful.
It’s proving to be a very difficult holiday season for our family, emotionally, but we’re doing our best to keep our chins up. I’m very fortunate to have my little family to hold on to when the days and nights just get too long and dark. I wouldn’t make it without Lakin, Addah and David, of that I am convinced.