Our Christmas Tree, a Memory Tree



Our Christmas tree is a memory tree.

Every ornament holds the significance of an historical event in our family’s history: my grandfather’s snowy Christmas vacation, an angel given as a wedding gift, ashes from one of the last Aggie Bonfires, a set of shoes for Rebecca’s first Christmas, an alphabet cube for Nicholas, a miniature portrait for Alexander, a painted ball depicting our trip to the Grand Canyon, a mitten from a hospital Christmas, a Delft icicle from our summer trip to Holland, etc., etc., etc.

I need to rephrase my first sentence; our Christmas tree was a memory tree.

Because our eleven-foot Christmas tree crashed to our unforgiving tile floor the weekend after Thanksgiving. And with that fall, 20 years’ worth of ornaments came to a shattered end.

20 years’ worth of a broken, irreparable mess. And not a single travel ornament survived.

Not. A. Single. One.

But isn’t that like life sometimes? One crashing life-event and all the memories you held precious and dear, now shattered and fragmented, never to be pieced together. Too splintered to mend. Bitter-sweet.

Divorce from a ‘forever’ marriage.

Aging parent’s dementia.

A terminal diagnosis.

A miscarriage following a pregnancy filled with memories.

The death of a child.

Tragedy from accidents.

Tragedy from purposeful, destructive acts….

Sometimes in life there is no repairing. Merely accepting the unwanted loss before you.

Our three children decided not to place the few straggly ‘survivor’ ornaments across our gigantic tree. Our loss would be far too magnified by the empty space our memory ornaments once consumed.

Lights and ribbons would have to suffice. We were finished with our memory tree.

Maybe forever.

But something unexpected happened this week. Our dear friends, the MacKinnon family, heard of our first-world misadventure and were saddened over our loss, albeit a superficial loss. They took immediate action and surprised the Taylor family with a box.

A box filled with 12 new ornaments. Thoughtful, beautiful, multi-colored glass ornaments that had meaning attached to our family – a doctor bag for Rebecca, an Aggie ornament for our alma matter, Big Ben for our London trip, a chocolate lab for our dog Chopin.…

These ornaments were to be the bedrock on which to build another memory tree. Reminiscent of the 12 stones of Judah, glittering on our tree as the gemstones did upon the breastplate of Aaron.

A few days later we received a box of ornaments from Godmother Gail. The day after, another set of ornaments from my cousin Amy and my Aunt Becky – every piece chosen with significance to our family’s journey. And each of these gifted ornaments represent a new beginning to a broken past.

There will come a moment in this life, where we all need a fresh start to move beyond our shattered history. Although our original ornaments can never be replaced, these new ornaments with new memories attached will be treasured. Because broken or not, life moves on. And I thank the MacKinnon family for that timely unexpected Christmas miracle.

“God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise!” – Jeremiah 17:14

Thank you Lord.

Love to each and every one of you,

7 thoughts on “Our Christmas Tree, a Memory Tree

  1. Your family and friends always find a way to make beauty from ashes. Thank you for sharing so much of your life, your sorrows, your joys, and your God given miracles. You bless many lives.


  2. As I sit here, the day before Christmas Eve, in all of my broken pieces, I feel the need to say Thank You. I don’t know you. I just know your story. I just know your God.

    I’ve been agonizing over the deep complexity of just exactly how do I put the pieces back.

    Your ability to express your thoughts and feelings is a gift. You provide hope wether you mean to or not.

    I don’t put the pieces back.
    Instead, I learn to live with each and every precious piece.

    Please pray for me as I begin that journey.

    I’m praying for you.


    1. I somehow missed this post but did not want to miss letting you know I am praying for you as you begin to piece every part of your life together. I am with you in spirit, but more importantly, God is.


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