Angels on our shoulder remind us to treasure blessings

The 2020 holiday season is here and like so many others I have talked to, I’m having difficulties feeling any excitement or joy. We have all been surrounded by so much turmoil throughout the year, dealing with the pandemic, racial unrest, the destruction of homes and families by the wildfires, the major hit to our local, small-business economy and the ongoing, heart-wrenching political dissent with its finger-pointing and blame being laid at the feet of whoever disagrees with us. Depression has been common.

Families are nervous about making plans to get together – trying to find compromises about what they want to do and what they know they should do. Ours is no exception. Like most families, we do not all share the same ideological beliefs. The degrees vary, but one thing that Jim and I do know – our family is unanimous in shielding us from the virus in any way they can.

We are a large, loving family that until 2020 gathered a lot throughout the year. We cherish our family barbecues during the summer, our large family vacations, our birthday and achievement celebrations throughout the year and, most especially, our holiday traditions.

During the past two years, Jim and I have both been able to cuddle a baby in our arms while we watch their older siblings and cousins swim in our daughter’s pool, or ride their ponies, hold baby lambs, swing and slide on their play sets and otherwise form bonds so tightly that these great-grandchildren of ours will carry the same traditions on to their own kids someday. We are very much aware of how much we have been blessed, and also how much we need to hold on to the memories that we are making now even though we must limit them. It has been our hope that our family’s willingness to sacrifice this year may mean that we can all be together next year.

This past week, I realized that I had no desire to decorate our home for Christmas. We have made no plans to have our cookie-decorating party this year, or the Christmas morning breakfast that we usually have. I have been getting and making gifts for the little ones, but I have no idea if I’ll be able to see them open them on Christmas Day. But, when Jim and I went out to fill the orders on the two ornaments we took off of the Lorane Angel Tree, we enjoyed searching for gifts that would be special to the unnamed local kids who had requested them. Then, we got to meet our son’s new St. Bernard/Mastiff puppy that he just brought home. Happy puppy kisses and the beautiful decorated tree in his living room brightened our day.

The next day, I brought home my Christmas decorations and began putting up our tree. I decided to get out the original decorations I had used when our own kids were small. When I opened the tub they were in, on the top I saw a familiar box. I lifted the top and, amid the cotton that filled it, was a small purple drawstring bag. I replaced the lid and set the box aside until I had strung the lights and hung all but one of the ornaments on the tree. I reserved a limb at the front and the very top of the tree as a place of honor for that last ornament. I carefully opened the royal purple bag and took out the very fragile, faded Santa Claus that had adorned so many of our trees over the years. It had been given to me by my mother many years ago. He had belonged to her when she was a little girl in Long Beach, Calif. … and I realized that he was now over 100 years old. Just placing that special ornament on the tree brought back not only the love of the angel who has been sitting on my shoulder since my mother passed in 2011, but the peace and goodwill that I’ve always felt at Christmastime.

May we all experience goodwill and peace in our hearts this holiday season and may we all have an angel sitting on our shoulders to remind us of our blessings!




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