Christmas is over. The wrappings that were so beautiful are all crumpled and ready to go into the trash. The decorations have been put away for another year and are neatly placed in the closets and out of the way. Some decisions are being made. Do we want this Christmas tree again next year? As we take the Christmas ornaments off we are remembering the special stories that each one reminds us about.

I have never bought a box of balls all just alike. One day the late Burlon Parsons, our writer at the Wharton Journal-Spectator, was visiting me and described my tree as an international Christmas tree. For years, I have been collecting Christmas ornaments from around the world.  There are those from Taiwan, Singapore, and Bangkok to name a few. While looking for that special ornament during my travels, the people in the shops assured me that they did not have any Christmas ornaments, but while walking around the store I saw a basket in the back corner that was filled with small handmade ornaments. There is a story in every piece. There are a few pieces from Hebron in Israel that I have collected. These pieces are made from soil that when fired, the color is a vivid blue.  It is said that this is the only place in the world where that deep blue color exists. The sad part is that we are not free to go there anymore because of the political unrest making these pieces even more important and special. Still my favorite Christmas decoration is two little snowmen. One lacks a shoe and a black felt belt. And the other one has somehow lost an arm.  The reason they are so important is my daughter Tessie made them in nursery school. They are well worn, but there could never be a price for them.

Naturally, there are various pieces from the Holy Land. Most of those have been carved out of olive wood. I desperately wanted a large nativity scene, but how would I get it home? By the time we selected the pieces we wanted, they were carefully wrapped. Some were put in Wayne’s carryon and some in mine. The crèche would go in Wayne’s bag, and the side pieces would go in the bottom of my bag. This entire set has been treasured.

This year the nativity purchased in 1978 in Bethlehem has found a new home.  Zoe and Zachary Sliva told me that their special birthday this year would have two numbers.  They were a big 10.  It seems that special birthdays needed to have something special that they could remember.  They now have this hand carved olive wood nativity in their new home.  It is beautiful and displayed with love and happiness.  This story can live on for many years.

Let’s return to the room filled with ruffled paper and boxes put away for next year. In the middle of all the clutter have we asked ourselves, where is the Jesus we talked about? Have we totally left the real reason for Christmas? Is Jesus going to just lay in the manger in the closet another year? Or are we going to let this Jesus live and be a part of our lives in the coming year? Read the Christmas story throughout the year so that it becomes more than a time when we get the tinsel out.  

This has been-we are suffering through COVID-19 but if we can think of one positive, it has taught us how important our families are. How we are missing the closeness around the table, the hugs and the kisses of past years, and most of all we have missed the personal fellowship of our church family.  

In a few days we will be thinking about the New Year. We are praying for our COVID-19 victims and anticipating a vaccine before too many months.  In the meantime, what are we saying to ourselves about the New Year?  Will it be one of peace? Will it be a time we can leave our homes without fear? How can we make our community a better place?

Billie Jones is a longtime resident who writes a weekly column on items of interest in this community. She can be reached at bhjones6@sbcglobal.net

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