It hung on the tree of their first Christmas together.
It hung on the Christmas trees of the years when my sister, my brother and I were born.
It hung on the Christmas tree of the year of my sister's death.
It has hung Christmas trees of the years of school and graduations.
It has hung on Christmas trees during the years of my brother's and my marriages.
It hung on the Christmas tree the year I was divorced.
It hung on the Christmas tree that I came to terms with being gay.
It hung on the Christmas tree as my family absorbed this knowledge and move on with understanding and love.
It hung on the Christmas trees of the years that each of my three nieces were born..and was there for all of their Christmases until the grew up and moved away.
It hung on the Christmas tree, sadly, the year my father died.
It hung on the Christmas trees each and every year that followed as my mother endured the grief of losing her life partner.
It hung on the Christmas trees each and every year after I moved to California.
It hung on the Christmas trees each year as my three nieces got married and started their own families.
It hung on the Christmas trees of years of good times and of years that were less good.
It hung on Christmas trees that were the center of family get-togethers and the house was filled with joy, laughter and love.
Then, the last summer my mother was alive and while I was home visiting her...she gave me this ornament and asked that I continue to make sure it would be hung on my Christmas trees with memory and with love. Mom had no major life threatening illness at the time...so I've often wondered if she knew within her soul that there would be no more Christmas trees upon which she would be hanging this little bell. She died that December.
So each year since then it has hung on my Christmas trees. It is carefully placed on a sturdy branch near the top of the tree each year in a ceremony of love, smiles and memories.
It has since then hung on my Christmas tree the year of my sister-in-laws death.
It has hung on my Christmas tree each of the years my great nieces and nephews were born and entered life.
It hung on my Christmas tree the year my brother died.
It has hung on my Christmas trees all of the years of my chosen family get-togethers.
It has hung on all Christmas tree of all of our family lives.
So, you see, this little Christmas bell has had quite a history. One can almost feel the glow of the memories it must harbor after all these Christmases. It, strangely enough, no longer seems inanimate but rather it is a family member too...that is cherished and loved.
This year as I hung it on my Christmas tree I noticed how worn and old it now looks. It no longer sparkles like it once did. However I have to admit I am now too a little worn and old...and I no longer "sparkle" with youth as I once did. The years have gone by so fast and it has been an incredible journey.
Someday in the future it is my hope that this tiny Christmas tree bell will be hung on someones Christmas tree with the same love and reverie with which it has graced all of our trees.
God bless and Merry Christmas!