Since before my college-aged children were born, an ever growing collection of angels come out each year to be suspended from one of the Christmas trees in our home. The angels on my angel tree have come to me from far-flung places around the globe, given to me by missionaries, parishioners, and friends. Many are handmade.
As I crack open the case that holds them, I lift a crocheted angel made for me by a one of the first women I met when I moved to this community, again before children, even before I met my husband Jerry.
This woman, Eleanor, served as activities coordinator in a nursing home where I volunteered by providing piano music. I can still see her pushing the residents into the piano room, often stopping to catch her breath as she suffered from severe asthma. It didn’t seem to hold Eleanor back much. She was perfect in her role, as she seemed to bring cheer to all that lived there.
She asked if I’d found a church. At that point, I’d only visited a church a couple of times. “Oh,” she said, “My son and his family attend there. Have you met them?” That son turned out to be one of my husband’s Jerry’s best friends (Again, I hadn’t even met Jerry yet). Eleanor made the angels for me many years after I met her, just before she went to be with the Lord. When I see her angels, I can trace the hand of God in my life as I remember her and her role in making me feel that this city was indeed, where God wanted me. My heart is filled with gratitude for her, and her family, which have meant so much to us over the years.
Another angel, a fragile one, hangs high on the tree protected from cat paws and wagging tails.
It was given to me one Christmas just days after I miscarried a baby. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe this angel holding a bundle in its arms. The friend that gave it to me said, “I bought it weeks ago, and it was already wrapped before you ever had the miscarriage.” No one even knew I was pregnant. At the time, it was added assurance God had my baby in his arms, and now, it’s a precious reminder of that little one I look forward to seeing in heaven. The friend who gave it to me is now fighting a serious disease and is in desperate need of an organ transplant. I give thanks for all she’s meant to me, and pray again as I have daily that God would open the door for her to receive the transplant.
A large angel stands sentry under the angel tree. Handmade from what appears to be screen wire, it was given to me one Christmas after I went through a former coworker’s serious health crisis with her.
That experience bonded us for life. She’s now the caregiver for her mother who’s in a serious health decline. She faces many challenges caring for her mother who now has forgotten who she is and thinks my friend is merely the woman who cooks for her. I offer prayers of thanksgiving for my friend and all the years of our friendship and pray God would give her strength for another difficult road.
I know some have a problem with putting out the Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. I don’t. For me, these angels remind me of precious ones who have meant so much. They represent an opportunity to give thanks.
How could we celebrate Thanksgiving anyway without that Christmas baby in the manger?
Thanksgiving and Christmas get all wrapped together at this house.
And that’s not a bad thing.
That’s a very good thing.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-16).