I’ve always had a low maintenance Christmas tree.
Before the kids were born, it involved only balls: Gold and red, and white lights. Eventually, once the girls started making ornaments, I had to bend my OCD ways and allow their creations to grace the tree. At first, I had a little cognitive dissonance seeing the handmade Rudolphs and Santas made out of Popsicle sticks, paper-mache and pipe cleaners. But soon, I was able to make peace with this new phase in my life.
Two years ago, after wrestling with broken and tangled lights, we finally broke down and bought an artificial tree with the lights built in. And then, the best part happened: My daughters began decorating the tree without my help.
Finally, I was free of the task for good as I now had capable elves who could handle it for me. Over the years, my mother, who loved Christmas, had threatened me that she would send me her ornaments. I told her to please not to, because I didn’t want any more clutter in my house.
But this year, things changed. When I was cleaning out my mother’s house after her death, I found a box of Christmas ornaments. I honestly thought she had given them all away because she always spent Christmas with us in North Carolina, and hadn’t bothered to put up a tree in several years.
And here’s the really unbelievable part: The ornaments were all lambs. Apparently, on account of our last name, my mother had been collecting lamb ornaments since the sixties. The box contained hundreds of lambs, porcelain, metal, wooden, you name it. Many of them I recognized from my childhood, the wilted felt lamb with the googly eyes, lambs with my name on them that I had obviously made at school or at a Christmas party, and newer, more modern lambs that she had acquired in more recent years.
My daughters began the tedious process of finding places for all of the lambs on our tree. After about an hour of work, they were understandably pooped. As I walked by the half empty box of lambs, I suddenly decided that all of the lambs needed to be on the tree this year.
So, without hesitation, I began the process of finishing what my daughters had started. An hour later, I stepped back and assessed my handiwork. There was not a bare branch in sight. Every single limb was graced by a lamb.
As I stood in the room where my mother died, I decided it was a fitting tribute to bring her lambs to a joyous place of honor this Christmas in this very spot. I imagined her admiring it and laughing at the same time…
I knew you would eventually see it my way, she was saying.
Amanda Lamb is a mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including several on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.