"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Fiberglass Angel

On Christmas Day my daughter
(named after an Allman Brothers song, not a saint)
helped out at a soup kitchen.
I’ve never done anything that commendable.
She got the idea from a friend,
not from me.
I think holy are the No Toxic Spraying signs
we store in the milkhouse for winter.

But I remember
my mother’s Christmas angel,
yellowed with age, the only one we ever had.
Fiberglass, Mother warned when we were little.
It’ll cut you if you touch.
So we never did.
We held our breath as she stood on a chair to place it on the top branch.
We broke all her glass ornaments on the hardwood floor,
the guilty one downcast with the evidence at her feet.
We needed no scolding from mother,
we dealt it out in holy measure amongst ourselves.

The nativity scene, ox and ass, baby and mother were another matter—
solid wood and unbreakable Joseph. We rearranged them throughout Advent.
Baby Jesus kept coming up missing.
I placed the shepherd closer to the action than the wise men.
They were wise but late arriving in their fancy robes and strange hats.

I gave a bushel of beets to the food pantry.
Does that count?

Dad wrestled our eight-foot trees into their stand
and trimmed the bottom branches.
(A Linck tree was never tied to the wall.)
Mother handled the lights and the angel while we fidgeted
with the ornaments spread out in front of us.

Their trees got smaller as we all left
(like mother, standing in stocking feet to place the angel)
and now the tree sits on an end table.
What glass ornaments remain stay wrapped
because there is no room on a tabletop tree.
But for an angel, yellowed with age, there always will be.

8 comments:

C.M. Jackson said...

sweet--hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

Liza said...

I can see it all. Loved the glass ornament images...we broke all ours too. Kudos to your daughter.

Yvonne Osborne said...

C.M.
Thank you so much! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

Liza,
Thank you. I can still remember the feeling of dismay with the ornament in pieces at my feet. Thanks for stopping by!

Wine and Words said...

I am a sucker for glass ornaments. It's all I have. I have a couple still from when my mom was a child. They are as thin as tissue. As fragile as they are, I love their delicacy and the way they catch the light and cast it about as if their shadows come to life and dance with the sugerplum fairies.

Anthony Duce said...

My memories of my parents and the tree and decorations are so similar. The class ornaments were a contention for my brother and me. they broke so easily. I felt like hurting mom each time.
Thank you for the memory.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Annie,
Thanks for putting it so well. They were like tissue paper. Is it any wonder we broke them all? That we love them so? Thank you.

Tony,
It did feel like that. I think it hurt us more than her. Thank you!

foldingfields said...

Love this (of course). I wish I had better comments, but you always just hit on your subject in the best way.
We always stole baby jesus from the manger scene...might have to sneak him from my mom's house next time I visit.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Sarah,
Thank you so much. I can remembering fighting over the placement of the manger characters. With 6 siblings nothing ever stayed the way you wanted it for long!