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We had an accident. I was out Saturday and my partner Rick was decorating the house for Christmas. The bundle of red branches that we arrange each year and decorate with Christmas ornaments had fallen. "Did the angel break?" I asked. He said yes. I felt like a wounded child and reminded myself that I had to be grown up.
The angel was a porcelain figure that had been a fixture of my life from the time I was four and my mother allowed me my own tree. It was also fashioned from branches, pine in this case from the huge tree outside my window growing up. I was fascinated by this piece of porcelain and already aware that it was fragile and required special care-it was an "adult" ornament according to my mother. Hence, each year I took special care to make sure it was safe. For me it was a minor ritual. But this year the branches were top heavy so it fell, and then the angel shattered, breaking into so many pieces that only a few relics were found.
Indeed the news hit me in the gut. I sat down for air. It felt silly that I had to talk myself down from the loss. I thought I should be grateful, and remember how life is so transitory. Nothing material lasts forever, and, as I said to myself, decorating for Christmas is really about the moment. This internal dialog softened the loss somewhat.
Remembering another Yuletide treasures, some recently acquired, helped some more. I thought about the surprising felt fish my family friend, Mrs. McEachern, made me, the wooden Santa from a neighbor, the (shall we say) unique ceramic Christmas tree I made when I was eight, and not long ago, the charming red birds with crowns that Rick bought me. Indeed, the fall of my once precious angel reminded me of the evanescent nature of Christmas and its fragile ornaments are just part of a long and rich continuum. I am a grown up, I can handle this.