All Christmas Stories
The Christmas Ornament
By David Ritter
Many years ago, when I was in kindergarten, I made a Christmas ornament to take home to my mother as a gift. This ornament was round and about the size of an orange. It was made of ceramic, white in color and very breakable, as our teacher continued to warn us. It was quite heavy, causing any branch that it would hang from to certainly bend under its burden. In the center of this cumbersome ornament, was a picture molded of a log cabin set in a forest of pinecone trees. Snow capped mountains adorned the skyline behind the log cabin, to complete a beautiful winter scene.
It was my job to paint this scenic view, and paint it I did, with such tedious care. I was careful not to get any green paint from the tops of the pinecone trees on the snow-capped mountains, or any red paint, which I chose to paint the log cabin, on any of the pinecone trees. When I was done with this task, I stared at my prized gift in my little hands. In my eyes it was the most beautiful Christmas ornament in the whole class and I looked forward to giving it to my mother. I waited patiently for the sound of the bell indicating the end of another school day and the beginning of Christmas vacation. At the sound of that bell, I rushed out the door and swiftly ran home, careful not to drop my precious ornament, which I held clasped in my hands.
Upon entering the comforts of a warm home, I found Mom in the kitchen doing one of the many things a loving caring mother does while spending most of her day in the confines of that one room: She was cooking. Proudly, I looked up at her with my hands wrapped around my back. Suddenly, I reached out my hand to display the cherished gift that I had worked so carefully on and cried, “Merry Christmas!”
With a shriek of excitement, she dropped what she was doing, took the gift from my hands, and held it close to her heart.
“Is this for me,” she asked.
“Yes, I made it at school,” I proudly explained.
“It is just beautiful,” she declared, as she marched into the living room with me in tow.
Once inside the living room we stood before a tall Christmas tree that was full of colorful ornaments of all shapes and sizes. The tree also had a string of lights of different colors, some of which even blinked liked stars. Garland circled the tree several times from top to bottom and shimmering, silver tinsel was scattered all over the tree, which made the whole tree appear as if it was sparkling. It was topped with a star of different colored lights. To me, it was the most glamorous thing in the whole house, if not the whole world. While gazing upon this magnificent tree, mother proudly hung the ornament on a sturdy limb in the center of the tree, careful not to let it slip and fall on the bare hardwood floors below, where it would certainly break.
“I’m going to hang it right in the front so everyone can see it,” she announced.
That’s where it hung, year after year. With each approaching Christmas when it was time to venture into the attic to drag out our prized Christmas decorations, upon coming across this one particular ornament, she would always hold it up for the rest of the family to see, saying, “Look what David made in kindergarten.” I would sheepishly look away, embarrassed by the childhood paint job of the bulky ornament and at the “awws” that would follow whenever Mom showed the ornament to family and friends.
As I grew older, I lost some interest in the things of Christmas, especially that ugly ornament. I didn’t understand why Mom made such a fuss over something I had made when I was a small boy.
One Christmas season, when I was well into my teens, Mom painstakingly was gathering together all the Christmas decorations for yet another Christmas. She slowly walked up to me and with much sadness, held out her hands. There was the Christmas ornament, broken into what seemed like a million pieces.
.“I accidentally dropped it,” she frowned.
Being in a hurry to leave the house, I glanced at it and said, “It’s okay, Mom.”
“But you made it in kindergarten,” she solemnly replied. Not taking into consideration her feelings of sadness and regret, I grabbed my coat and said, “It’s no big deal Mom, it was an ugly ornament anyway,” as I quickly exited the house.
The next day, after spending the night with a friend, I came home to the sounds of glorious Christmas music echoing throughout the house. Mom waited patiently for me to take off my winter gear, then walked up to me with her hands wrapped around her back. “Guess what I got?” she said smiling. “I don’t know, what?”
She reached out her hand and in it was the ornament that had been broken into a million pieces. It had been glued back together. I said, “Wow, that doesn’t look too bad,” as I took it from her hand to further examine it. Realizing now how much that Christmas ornament meant to her, I hugged her and told her that I loved her. I then walked over and proudly hung the mended ornament on a sturdy limb in the center of the tree.
Looking back, I often wonder how long it must have taken my mom to glue that Christmas ornament back together. I really never expected to see the ornament again; yet, with her love, she took the time to put it back together for me.
To this day she continues to put things back together for me. Whenever my hopes and dreams have been shattered or my heart has been broken into what seems like a million pieces, it has always been Mom who took the time to help put things back together, with her love.
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