The season to embrace the imperfect


We are in the thick of the wonderful season that is Christmas at our home. The cookies, the caroling, the snow and the glow. During this season of twinkle lights and time flying by at the speed of Santa’s sleigh, unearthing the Christmas decorations feels like opening a time capsule.

Out of the depths of storage come fancy, store-bought, decorative ornaments. Glistening, color coordinated beauties, some in collectible boxes, are quickly admired and equally quickly set aside.

We know what we are looking for. We seek the masterpieces born of construction paper, cotton balls, crayons and glue. There must have been some magic in the markers used. When I pull these ornaments crafted by tiny hands out of the box, I thrill to the memories of the small girl and boy who lovingly presented them to me.


The Popsicle stick puppets depicting the cast of Rudolph’s Amazing New Year, including Santa with an inexplicably black beard, (must have been during an ill-advised “Just for Men” hair color phase?) is a perennial favorite.

There are preschool crafts, slowly crumbling as the simple white glue reaches a decade in age and struggles to hold for another year.

We always look for the simple computer paper ornament depicting a sleigh, two stick figure reindeer and Season’s Greetings to “My Family from Kassie Seabolt.” As if we might have confused her with the other Kassie handcrafting our ornaments? There is something so special about that phase when children sign their full name.

The one-eyed Santa with the tattered cotton ball beard dangling by a thread is kind of creepy — but also quaint.

The piece de resistance is, of course, Elvis the Angry Christmas Angel. He tops our tree in all his construction paper glory. A masterpiece from our son’s preschool years, he is the most wonderful angel I have ever seen. Pompadour slightly bent but none the worse for wear. His tiny fists poised to fight.

If I was a better marketer I really think Elvis the Angry Christmas Angel could have given Grumpy Cat a run for his money. He has fought his way up the tree branch ladder to land atop the tree. There are rumors about how the original topper came to die but no one is telling on Elvis.


Upstairs GirlWonder, the family traditionalist, once again hauls out “the kids’ tree.” The kids’ tree is the tree from my own wonder years. I imagine it was purchased at Montgomery Wards or some equally quaint vestige of a forgotten time. It’s only 5-feet tall (although I swear it was much, much larger when I was little). It’s somewhat diminutive height was likely based on two things: my young single mother’s budget, and what she could ferry home in her VW Bug.

Years ago my mother passed it on to our children. Each year they set it up on the upstairs landing and decorate it with their own ornaments, collected over the years. This year during the installation, my daughter gasped when the entire top of the tree fell off in her hands. I wasn’t exactly surprised. It’s got to be 40 years old. Now it’s not so much tree shaped as it rounded. Behold the Christmas shrub.


Willing to find humor in most anything, our daughter just kept decorating it and now the Christmas shrub graces our upstairs hallway, looking better than it has in years. As a tree, it was kind of scrubby and short. As a Christmas shrub? It shines! Does anyone have a better shrub? I think not.

As I glance around our home I see Christmas decorations that are priceless and treasured and I realize what makes them beautiful is not perfection, inherent sparkle or shine of the lights. It is seeing these things — and so many warm memories reflected in the eyes — and recollections of those we love best.


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