We have always allowed our children to place the ornaments on the Christmas tree. It is a special time when we talk about each ornament and the memories that it represents. There’s the sand- and seashell-filled bulb from our amazing trip to San Diego; the yellow lab puppy for the year we got our dog, Belle; the Griffin family Christmas ornament from my best friend the year she moved away; the sweet little house we inherited when we lost my uncle . . .
And so on and so on.
And, of course, there are the photo frame ornaments – one for each year of each of our children’s precious lives.
As they carefully unwrap each treasured memory and place it lovingly on the tree, we take a journey back through time, reminiscing about places we’ve been, people we have loved (and sometimes lost), and our hopes for things yet to come.
Every year for as long as I can remember, there has been a distinct line around our tree that the ornaments do not cross, indicating the limit to the height that their little hands can reach. Unlike some people, I have never felt the need to redistribute those ornaments, reveling instead in the beauty of watching them grow.
It is, without compare, one of my favorite Christmas memories!
When we started all those years ago, the line was only about two and a half feet up on the tree, leaving the vast majority of the limbs bare and naked. As time has passed, however, that line has steadily climbed higher and higher on the boughs. This year, that line is considerably higher – about a foot from the top. In the next one to two years, I have no doubt that the gap will finally close, and the sweet little line will disappear forever.
I find myself torn between great joy and great sadness as I stand gazing at that line. It is a sweet reminder of how much they have grown and how quickly the years have flown by. I am unbelievably proud of the way they love freely, the way they serve less fortunate, and the way they walk confidently in their faith. I am moved by their honorable character and their selfless hearts.
But it is also a bittersweet reminder that our time with them, like that beautiful bare spot on the top of the tree, is growing shorter with each passing minute, hour, and year. Our children are a precious gift, loaned to us only for a God-chosen time to love and steward. Though they are momentarily mine, they are eternally His.
And so, the line around the Christmas tree is a reminder to us all. A reminder to love our children fiercely, friends. Every minute of every day. They are only ours for a very short season. Then, in a blink of an eye, they will be gone.
I know aviation life can be chaotic sometimes. I know that it’s easier to focus on the frustrations and the nuances than the beauty and blessings. But today, I am imploring you to make the most of every moment, to own every day. Intentionally seek out the joy, create beautiful memories, and focus on the positive.
Don’t allow a single, precious moment to pass you by. The top of the tree is much closer than you think.
Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)