The Shattered Ornament: You Cannot Destroy Christmas

The Shattered Ornament: You Cannot Destroy Christmas December 17, 2017

photo-1420585269105-d908ec316eb3_optChristmas is indestructible even if we are not.

The Grinch discovered he could not steal Christmas: it came, oh, it came. You can no more break a good memory than one can change the past. What was beautiful is always beautiful. The atheists of Russia  could not make a Faberge egg, only collect and sell those they had not smashed with rifle butts. Yet the memory of even the missing beauty grows and overwhelms the ugly concrete structures tossed up by evil.

Beauty gone from the present becomes mightier in our memory, more lovely still as mercy brings .

I think of this as we unpack the ornaments from our move to Saint Anne’s Villa on No Hill. Much has been shattered by boxes not sturdy enough for movers more interested in being done than being careful. Who can blame them? We went from two stories to three, big to small, and the packing of all our “stuff” was hard. Hope has been hard at work with superglue to fix what can be fixed, but much is gone.

There is nothing less repairable than a shattered Christmas ornament.

And yet as the Grinch discovered taking ornaments away, even breaking them, does not stop Christmas from coming. Each shattered ornament merely makes room for something new. Often, in our case, the new is empty space in a tree already over crowded with memories. We recollect what was, that is not gone, but now there is more space for new ornaments or for the tree simply to be the tree. There is no “empty” space on a Christmas tree anymore than in a human life. The parts we do not decorate are lovely by absence. Glitter on a neighboring limb a supporting role. The natural beauty accentuates the artificial. No more can our lives be empty of meaning. The framework, the meaningful order of the cosmos, remains and where it is the only thing, where there is no human decoration, then it exalts all the rest by the gift of simplicity.

Once a little boy broke an ornament from Disneyland that we cherished. When whole, that object reminded me of a good time with my family, but now the glob was broken and sharp shards of glass were all around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Oddly, this was lovely and so I kept that globe for many years. The broken globe was interesting, because it was like our lives just now:  beauty exposed in our brokenness. What was gone had been cute, but conventional. The broken glass ball became interesting, the tchotchke as actual art, shaped by our life experiences.

Hope and I grow older and no longer look like the youngsters imaged on our first wedding ornament. My knees hurt. Dad (at 80!) says that this getting older thing does not get better. Yet when I look at Hope, then I see more beauty, deeper joy, framed differently. So it goes. We stand in December at the end of year and unpack old ornaments, some broken, but finding in Christmastide the mercy we need.



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