For a sentimental, knick-knack loving person like me, ornaments are treasures. They tell a multitude of stories. Ornaments' greatest advantage, however, is that they come out once a year. I don't have to find a place for them on my crowded shelf. (can you tell we have been purging junk lately? But I digress.
Last year, I wrote a post about how ornaments tell stories. This year, I wanted to share a few more ornaments. But one ornament especially relates to the Advent Prayer Buddy effort that the IF bloggers have done every year. In Christmas 2009, my then-Prayer Buddy, In All Things Good/DC Baby sent me this charming woven ornament from Africa:
Inside, she wrote a prayer (I think it is the Christmas novena?) asking God to grant me a child. Not only was I thrilled to add the first ornament from the continent of Africa to our tree, the prayer touched me greatly. You see, 2009 was not on my list of good years. In fact, on New Year's Eve, I enthusiastically bid farewell to 2009. The year held many crosses: a death in the family, ending of a job, numerous IF medications with no relief in sight, facing the prospect of losing weight for an adoption, the loss of our pastor... Let's just say hope was in short supply. I looked at that ornament wondering if there was any hope left.
Turns out, 2010 became a year of hope. A nice amount of pounds melted away (I've since gained them back!). Just as I neared my adoption goal weight, we found out a baby had miraculously shown up in my belly. I had an incredible 4th grade class. A new pastor came to our parish.
And to boot, my prayer buddy also became pregnant in 2010. In fact, we had our babies within a couple weeks of each other.
Today, this little red basket ornament symbolizes that hope remains in the darkest of places. Especially when I don't see it. The ornament will forever have a place on our tree. I think it will keep me grounded, lest I ever forget the Christmases past. The ones where my heart ached. Or (without sounding too dismal), the Christmases in the future that may seem darker: I particularly think of my friend J, whose father was diagnosed with terminal cancer mere weeks ago and will celebrate his last Christmas.
Christmas 2011 is a bright beacon in the Petals home: we gratefully celebrate KB's first year of life and welcome our families from both coasts to celebrate. Two lovely ladies in the SHE group are celebrating magnificent Christmases as well: after 12 years, has become pregnant; the other sweet friend K will make merry with her 2 twin boys, born earlier this year (her first 3 babies are in heaven).
I keep looking at the ornament on the tree, knowing that with the help of God's grace, the love and support of my husband, family, and friends, I survived a dark year. Should another dark year come again in the future, I hope that ornament reminds me to find HOPE, because it will always have a special place on our tree.
P.S. My Advent prayer buddy from last year gave me an exquisite mug plus fragrant coffee beans from these monks. Their coffee is sanctifyingly awesome!