I picked up an ornament, yesterday, at a little thrift shop. 25 cents for a beautiful, heavy glass mini snow globe hanging from a silver cord. How could you go wrong with that?! I showed it to Bill and the kids and they smiled. Nice reaction. But nothing earth shattering.
But one time, in a Christmas long ago, (I feel like a grandma in a rocker telling my chilluns all about the good ole days), there was an ornament that caused a powerful, beautiful, healing reaction. This ornament was simple. Nothing fancy, but it was a reminder of love. And we all need those reminders ...sometimes we need them more than we realize.
I don't even remember which year it was exactly. I do remember, though, that it was the year after our dog, our Springer Spaniel, Ginger, had died. We had enjoyed her loving company for over twelve years. We had grown up with her. She had witnessed our family fights and our joyous celebrations.
She had one time saved my Mom from going down a raging river. Actually it was just a creek with a fast current and the dog swam out to my Mom who had started to flounder a bit. My mom grabbed onto Ginger's collar and Ginger swam back towards shore. We just like to summarize the whole account by saying she saved mom's life.
Ginger also picked up a wounded pheasant, one day. She jumped onto the closed tent trailer parked in our backyard and laid the wounded bird on the roof. Then she waited there for us to notice her accomplishment. When she waited for us to notice her, she waited patiently. Sometimes she waited a long time.
Ginger was the one thing my Dad and my older sister had in common: they both loved that dog. I think Kris was the one who had to take her to dog obedience classes, when we first got Ginger as a puppy. Dad had a lot on his plate, as a teacher and a coach, and the father of five kids. Ginger, once in a while, was work. She had to be walked. She had to be brushed. Dad felt like the father of six, sometimes- only one of the six was especially obedient. Never talked back. Did not go through a painful adolescence. Never got angry or hurt because of lack of attention.
I don't even want to remember my chaotic teenage years, much less the years that three of us girls were teenagers together, under the same roof, with a weary but determined father, a loving but exhausted mother, and one dog who witnessed the highs and lows of our days. (My brothers were off at college, by now). This dog witnessed the clashes between my sister and my Dad. Ginger watched silently.
One day, Ginger was not there anymore. We all said little and tried not to think about how we missed her.
Then, it was Christmas. It was time to put up the tree. I was helping to unpack the ornaments and handing them to my sister who was handing them to my Dad to put on the tree. I got to one box, and pulled out a simple ornament, a rendition of our dog, Ginger. I handed it to Kris. She looked at it quietly and then handed it to Dad. Dad looked down and saw that it was Ginger's ornament. He looked at Kris, and his eyes filled up. Kris came over to Dad and hugged him. They held each other as they broke down. I heard them whisper something to each other about how they missed that dog.
That dog- who had been with us through thick and thin. Through highs and lows. That dog was a reminder that we were connected together, whether we liked it or not. Now that the sound of her joyous barking was gone, and there were no brown eyes looking quietly at you, waiting for a treat- there was still something left of her in our home.
Her ornament declared the message that love watches and love waits patiently. Waits for an open door. Sometimes a bridge of reconciliation can occur, even over a little thing... such as a reminder of love hanging on a Christmas tree.