I've written about my first grade teacher, Mrs. Neusch before, but I'm not sure that she knew back in 1963 that she was beginning a Christmas tradition. She put up a tree in the classroom and our homework one weekend early in December was to make an ornament for it. I remember bursting in the back door after school and telling my mother about the assignment and all the ideas I had come up with on the bus ride home. My ornament was going to be pink, with sequins, glitter, and diamonds, and be the best ornament ever.
I don't remember the actual making of the ornament at all, but it's pretty clear that it is my mother's handiwork. No first grader could blow out an egg, dye it pink, and glue on felt holly leaves, sequins, glitter, and diamonds, but my mother did. It seemed wondrous to me that she had created the ornament of my dreams, and I thought (and pretty much still do!) it was the best ornament ever. Part of the Christmas miracle of this ornament is that is has survived, uncracked and undamaged, for 53 years.
The second ornament is the one that Mrs. Neusch gave me as a gift that Christmas. She chose a different one for each of her students, and she said that this one reminded her of me because the angel had blonde hair and open arms, and was reaching for the stars.
These ornaments are important to me because they are reminders of people that loved me, listened to me, and believed in me. They are also important reminders that people are always more important than things. My own sons know how special these ornaments are to me, but I may have stressed that too much when one Christmas Ryan told Justin to be careful because I might love these ornaments more than anything. That was terrible to hear, but a perfect opportunity to hug both of them tightly and tell them that I would always love them most of all. Someday the egg will break, and all the glitter will fall off the moon, but I will always have lovely memories of loving people.
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