When our first son, Jeremy, was born, my husband and I decided to begin some special Christmas traditions. I told my husband, “Let’s buy an ornament for each year of Jeremy’s life. When he gets engaged, we’ll give them to him and his fiancée at their bridal shower.”
The plan sounded simple. After all, many years would pass (at least 40!) before our son would be old enough to think about marriage. Fast-forward with me to 24 years later…
Tears dripped from my cheeks as I removed the ornaments from the tree. I knew this was the last time they would hang on our Christmas tree.
My hands reached to remove a round ball from the branch. This was the first ornament we had purchased, “Baby’s First Christmas.” Memories overwhelmed me as I remembered my husband cradling our tiny son in his arms while we hung it on Jeremy’s first Christmas tree.
I laughed through my tears as I removed the next ornament from the tree. This one contained a squirrel in a bathtub, holding a bar of soap. We had purchased it as a joke the year we discovered our young son was taking his bath without using soap.
Each ornament held such precious memories. There were handmade ornaments carried home with pride from school days. There were ornaments portraying the birth of baby Jesus. There were ornaments depicting basketball, fishing, vacations, and other activities we had enjoyed as a family. Each one was like an old friend who had come to visit each year.
I thought of all the fun we’d had every Christmas decorating the tree, Jeremy digging through the box of ornaments so he could hang his own. In the snapshots in my mind, I could still see the excited expression on his sweet little face as he reached to hang the ornaments on the branches.
I finished packing the box with an ornament that once hung on his late grandfather’s Christmas tree, and one of the ornaments from the tree his dad and I decorated the first year we were married. Then I included a note,
This is a box full of happy memories that once hung on our tree. Now they can hang on your tree, in your new home, as you build your own happy memories.
Love, Mom and Dad
I tied a pretty ribbon around the box and took it to Jeremy and Lydia’s household shower. Years ago when we began the tradition, my husband and I would never have dreamed how difficult it would be to give that gift away, but nestled among the ornaments, we packed a piece of our hearts in that box.
At their shower, I held my breath as my son and future daughter-in-law removed the ribbon from the gift. As he read the note, I watched my son’s jaw clench and his eyes fill with tears. Then I heard a muffled sniff from beside me and I turned to discover my husband sitting there with huge tears dripping from his cheeks.
Over the next few years we wrapped two more boxes as shower gifts for when our middle and youngest sons got married. Both of them cried when they opened their boxes of ornaments…and we wiped tears from our cheeks as well.
A simple tradition. A lifetime of precious memories. A special gift for all of us.
Begin some Christmas traditions this year at your house. You’ll blink twice and your parenting days will be over. Seriously, it goes by so fast! Make some memories together that your children can take with them when they’re grown. You’ll be glad you did.
Michelle Cox'is the award-winning bestselling author of "Just 18 Summers" (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., April 1, 2014) and (releasing fall 2016) "God Glimpses from the Jewelry Box" and "God Glimpses from the Toolbox." Visit her at www.just18summers.com.