Christmas Cards for Santa
artist: Linda Sickman
This is one of the earliest ornaments I bought. It seemed to represent a very human thought of prayer. I like to think that especially at Christmas, this is how God receives our prayers - with a great big smile and a sense of ease and relaxation. And how many prayers we send at Christmastime! Think of all the churches who celebrate all over the world, all those who send a silent prayer upwards during these holy days. Even if we don't celebrate Christmas perfectly, and still less try to live it all year, nevertheless we don't forget it. We still gather, we still hope for peace and a better world, we still recall the infant birth thousands of years ago. We still try.
Good Tidings Angel
artist: Teri Steiger and Kristina Klein-Gaughran
Two things are special about this ornament:
First, this angel immediately brings to mind St. Terese's (aka the Little Flower) promise to "let fall a shower of roses" to all who ask her intercession in Heaven. As is so often emphasized when it comes to receiving help and graces, one first has to ask. I bet this is just what St. Terese looks like as she keeps her promise.
Secondly, the manner in which the angel is distributing the love hearts is the way God acts - slowly, individually, through time. Nothing happens with the wave of a magical wand. Even creation took 6 days - it didn't happen in the blink of an eye, although it could have. But this angel shows us that God builds and builds. First, there has to be a foundation. Once that is set, then some walls can go up. Everything is one at a time. Although Scripture and even our own experience tells us this methodology is true, we always forget it. So this angel is a great reminder not just of St. Terese, but also the way in which she keeps her promise in assisting us to build the Kingdom.
Make A Little Merry
artist: Sue Tague
materials: felt, cardboard, resin
This is one of my absolute favorite ornaments. I keep it nearby most of the year, to remind me of what is really important, and to cheer me up on those rainy, blue days.
To me, the message is simple: you can be happy in a matchbox. The little mouse represents humility. Mice are low to the ground and industrious. They stay busy, working and preparing, and are often represented in popular imagination (such as in illustrations and children's books) as living in warm, tidy spaces of comfort and cheer. They are not involved in the pursuit of things that are above them, but rather focus on food, shelter and family. Think especially of the The Country Mouse and The City Mouse storybook. Or, if you like, Thoreau's opening statement in Walden - "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life."
This mouse knows that she can do a lot to affect her own happiness, and that most of it is not dependent on what is outside of her. Happiness is about gratitude, more than anything else. She's gathered up the odds and ends that she could find - a worn out spool of thread, an old thimble. scraps of felt and unused buttons. She is resourceful and creative, and most of all uses the little she has to create a home of hospitality.
Nineteen century Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard wrote in Works of Love that the "hidden life of love is knowable by its fruits - yes, there is a need in love to be recognizable by its fruits." One of the first fruits of love is hospitality, the active pursuit of welcoming others. Finding joy in welcoming others is one of the keys to happiness. It's not dependent upon what's in your pocketbook or bank account, but what's in your heart. This ornament reminds me that I have plenty to be grateful for, and challenges me to ask myself where do I really think my happiness comes from?
A Trio of Wreaths