Try as I might, I’ll never figure out how we can talk with people from around the world on cell phones, but can’t invent Christmas tree lights that stay lit from one season to the next.
Since it was Saturday afternoon when I started decorating, I decided to avoid tree lights until after Sunday. I was afraid the ordeal would lead to thoughts unbecoming to Sunday morning worship.
Instead, I set out the nativity Mama gave me many years ago. As I unwrapped the pieces from the original box where they are carefully packed each year, I couldn’t find Baby Jesus in the manger. I was shocked, dismayed and sad.
Next I pull out the Macaroni Angel Tree. After Mama died, I dug through her cedar chest, trying to figure out what to do with her keepsakes. Tucked in a corner was a small Christmas tree given to her by my sister-in-law, Judy. Lamar and Judy had four children and as a stay-at-home mom Judy always sent creative, and somewhat inexpensive gifts to Mama and Daddy, who absolutely adored each and every treasure.
When I picked up the tree, I laughed out loud remembering how delighted Mama and Daddy were when they received this unique gift. It was a tiny, lighted Christmas tree covered with macaroni angels. Using a hot glue gun, Judy created angels from macaroni — bow-tie macaroni for the wings and a half a piece for the skirts. Elbow macaroni made perfect arms and gold balls and rings completed the heads and halos.
Mary and I always chuckled about how Judy could do anything with a hot glue gun. Although she won’t admit it, I think she even glued a bow in her baby daughter’s hair when it was too thin to support the clip! We’ve seen Judy fix a heel on a shoe, mend a toy and repair jewelry with hot glue. The glue gun was a staple in her world that I didn’t appreciate until I started decorating my own home and creating craft projects with the grandchildren. Truth be told, I have acquired three glue guns, packages of varying strengths of glue and have them close at hand for any emergencies.
On Monday, I tackled the Christmas tree lights. This year, like other aspects of my life, I decided to downsize. Instead of a thousand lights on my tree, I went with about 400. And as I unpacked hundreds of sentimental ornaments, my hot-glue gun was ready to repair anything broken.
I hung the stockings for all family members — those that will celebrate the season with me and those who are gone. I repaired some of the macaroni angels, fluffed the wreaths, and smiled with a warm heart at the photos of Mary and me with the Rich’s Santa Claus.
As I sat down to do some repairs with the hot glue gun, I’m reminded that the glue that holds our world together is not all that complicated, either. It doesn’t come in a stick from the home deco store, but is a more spiritual part of who we are — like:
• Sitting quietly and reflecting with affection about your own Christmas treasures and memories;
• Loving those around you for who they are and not for whom you want them to be;
• Being patient — the people who need our love the most are often the hardest to give it to and often those who find it the hardest to accept.
The Macaroni Angel Christmas tree reminds me of the excitement and love that is a part of my family heritage. It reminds me that the simplest elements in the world can be used to create lasting impressions. And most of all, it reminds me that the real keepsakes of Christmas are those things that were thoughtfully designed, creatively made, and came from the heart — not the wallet.
This year as you scan the sales catalogues, look for bargains, rush through the craziness of shopping, cooking, decorating and socializing, may you find a special treasure that reminds you that angels come from unexpected places — like a box of macaroni. And, may your thoughts and actions of kindness be the glue that holds your holiday season together.
I am in awe that the original lights still shine on the Macaroni Angel Tree and I’m convinced, somewhere in all the tissue paper, wrappings, and ribbons of Christmas, I’ll find Baby Jesus — and if not, He’ll find me!
Thanks for all the stories you’ve sent me about your Christmas memories. Look for the collection in the next couple of weeks. There’s still time to send more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-823-8668.