My mom is going to kill me for telling this story. . .
When I was very little, we lived in a large house in Ohio. From what I’ve been told, this house had multiple levels and these levels were rented out to poor seminarians and their families. We lived in the attic.
On a cold winter’s night in December, my mom was suddenly concerned by the fact that there was silence. She wondered where her two young children, my brother and I, were, and what we were up to. She was right to worry. It was about this age that my brother and I found the chewable tylenol and finished it off between the two of us. Eek. But this time, when she happened upon us, the scene was very different.
My brother, Mat, and I were two little curled up bodies looking through a frosty window mesmerized.
“Look, Kitty.” This was my brother’s pre-preschool version of Kristy. He couldn’t say his r’s or his s’s.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” he breathed out in all 2 1/2 yr. old wonder.
This drew my mom in even closer. She wanted to know what we were looking at. She wanted to see what put us in this hushed state of amazement. She looked out of the window and saw a Christmas tree, sitting in the neighbor’s window, all lit up.
Now, I will tell you that when my mom tells this story, she talks about how her heart broke in that moment. You see, we didn’t have a Christmas tree. We couldn’t afford one. She was worried about how we would be affected by this, but that is her story to tell.
Mine is very different. When I go back to this moment, my 4yr. old body curled up to the condensation stuck to the window, looking at the big colored bulbs of the neighbor’s Christmas tree, I feel wonder. I feel the short arrested gasp lodge in my throat. I remember holding my breath in disbelief. I remember feeling my chubby fingers pressed up against the coldness of the glass. I feel the dawning of the understanding of beauty. I have these as my memories.
My memories are not of the lack, or the “supposed to have”. My memories are of a gift. A gift of beauty. A gift of wonder. A gift of grace.
As I sit as a grown person now, and stare at a Christmas tree sitting in my very own living room, I cannot help but be transported to a time when I could not imagine the beauty of a Christmas tree. And, I hear a sweet little voice from my past whisper, “Look, Kitty. Isn’t it beautiful?”