This one of my favorite ornaments. My grandmother made it for my first Christmas when I was a baby. It’s made from ceramic and has some fantastic gitter/snow-like stuff painted on it. I loved this ornament partly because it was an ornament that I got to hang every year. Having three brothers and sisters, I didn’t have to fight anyone to hang this ornament because it had my picture. Recently, it has become even more special since my grandparents are no longer living.
I think my favorite decoration is the angel atop our Christmas tree. Many different decorations have come and gone through our house over the years. I have seen generations of ornaments come and go, but this one decoration has always set on top of our tree. The year I was finally tall enough to reach up and place her on top still stands out in my mind. It is beautiful and classic, a timeless decoration that won't soon be replaced.
My favorite Christmas decoration is my mom’s nativity set. It's special because my grandmom (her mom) made it. My Grandmom used to make and paint ceramics and sell them at local markets. She made both of her daughters a beautiful nativity set. As kids, we were never allowed to touch it because it’s breakable. As we got older, my sister and I thought we were big stuff when mom let us help her set it up on top of the stereo cabinet. My sister and I have a favorite piece in the set…. the “broken neck lamb." For some reason one of the shepherds’ lambs has its head turned in a very unnatural way. We have laughed about this for years. The nativity set is so big that we don’t set all the pieces out; usually various barnyard animals and a camel stay in the box, but the “broken neck lamb” is ALWAYS set out in a place of honor.
She later made each of her 5 grandchildren a nativity set of their own from smaller molds. They are beautiful and I now set it out in my house. Sadly since it’s a different set of molds…there are no “broken neck lambs”; just healthy, normal lambs.
I have always loved Christmas lights. Something about lights showing up on houses after Thanksgiving has always gotten me into the Christmas spirit. I have some great childhood family memories of driving around Knoxville looking at the extravagantly decorated houses in our area. One particular house in Halls, I believe it was in Temple Acres, was always a family favorite which often included Santa handing out candy canes. Now, as a husband and father, Heather and I enjoy seeing and hearing the delight in Blair when we see the simplest light displays. Besides the "wow" factor of these overly decorated houses, Christmas lights, to me, are often a great reminder of what Christ was to this world. Christmas lights come on and shine through the darkness at night. Christ is the light, and we are called to be that same light. We are to shine brightly in the darkness.
Light of the World
Eli brings up a good point, because it is so easy to get lost in all the decorations that we forget why we set them out. Our nativity scenes and angles can easily become part of a legend, and the lights don't do much more than awe us and run up our electric bill. But there is a reason we set out our "broken-neck lambs" and plug in hundreds of lights; it is to remember the birth of Christ. Isaiah writes one of the most beautiful prophecies about the coming Messiah in chapter 9 of his book, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness." (Isaiah 9:2)
Just as each decoration holds a special memory of family and tradition, each decoration also holds the reminder of the coming of our Savior into the world. Don't forget why we decorate and celebrate this season. And unlike the decorations that go away at the end of the year, Christ's light is still shining through the darkness. Although it may seem overwhelmingly dark at times, remember John's words in the first chapter of his Gospel: "Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:4-5)