Last year, while shopping for a new Christmas tree.. I fell in love with one that sported pine cones, berries and a soft sprinkling of snow on the branches.
But.. when I saw the price tag?
Yup.. when I saw the price tag on that beautiful tree .. I hesitated.
With a smile.. I could clearly see the memory of my Aunt Diane leaning close to me.. like we were conspicuously conspiring against the “over commercialization of Christmas”..
She would lean in and whisper .. “We can make this.”
Her confidence always impressed me.
AND.. we always were able to make what we set our mind to.. exactly the way we wanted.
So last year? I smiled at my Aunt Diane’s memory.. and set about making the tree I wanted..
..it took me a year.. but I did make it..
As I added pine cones and berries to each branch.. I thought about how we are often guided by the shadows around us.
The shadows of the influences in our past.. and in our present..
Sure the shadow of the summers working with my Aunt Diane guided my hands into making a beautiful tree..
.. the shadows of her advices..
“ok.. that didn’t work. Try again.”
“By taking it apart.. you know how to fix it.”
“The only way to know is to jump in and try.”
.. but it was the shadow of my Aunt’s confidence IN ME that guided me to EVEN try..
I glued berries through tears.. remembering her chatting while we worked on crafts together… remembering her laughter…
As I chatted with my girl while we crafted this beautiful tree.. I was thankful for these beautiful shadows that guide me.
But not all Shadows are beautiful as they guide us.
My Aunt beat cancer her first time through.. but the second time it came…??
I drove hours to visit her when her body became weak. I stayed nearby and watched her visit with others..
.. but I never told her how important she was to me.
It was too hard.
What was even harder?
The months after her funeral. The months wishing I had been strong enough to tell her. To speak through tears and sadness. To admit that I was going to miss her until I saw her again.
We are guided by all the shadows in our lives.. the sweet ones.. the funny ones.. and the sad ones .. They ALL shape us into the people we become.. and guide us in the paths we choose in life.
And I have been Blessed by SO MANY shadows in my life!!
This week as we got together with family….
.. and we watch another loved Auntie battle with cancer..
Cancer is hard. It’s hard to battle.. it is hard to watch..
.. and it is really hard to accept ..
I think about the shadows of memories this Auntie has given to my husband.. to me .. and to my kids.. Her beautiful soul. Her happiness to give.. her capacity to love .. her smiles and laughter.. her joy..
I think about the smiles these shadows will give for years to come..
I’m still not great at telling people how important they are to me.. but this time the shadows reminded me to at least say “love you Auntie” .. and I am so thankful that I got a chance to tell her again this week.
As my family put the ornaments on our newly designed tree.. we found one that our Auntie gave my kids .. She bought it for them when they were small.
.. and I realized…
Christmas trees are full of Shadows.. shadows of Auntie from my childhood and from my adulthood.. shadows of my kids when they were little.. and now that they are big.. shadows of growing as a family.. and shadows that make us tear up..
.. and this Christmas tree?
This Christmas tree shows me exactly how much I have to be thankful for..