What is a Christmas tree if not a special messenger to the child in each of us? There it stands with its open branches so ready to bring us into the world of dreams and delight. We can smell the strong essence of earth and forest. We can see the deep green that symbolizes growth and fertility. We can feel renewed, as if life has just begun this very moment! There we sit in our living room playing board games with our family, enjoying our favorite ornaments or watching our favorite holiday films. We laugh, we chatter, we joke around in excited tones. After all Christmas is so close! And while we are so focused on the day to day world our lovely Christmas tree can bring a magic to us that we can’t really see. Yes, at another level our tree gifts us with an innocence and an imagination that we can’t touch but know is there.
This is why children’s ornaments are so important.
Girls and boys feel comfortable with ornaments that seem to come directly from the books we read to them. One girl might see angels dancing about in the branches protecting her. If a boy listens well the sweet little mice on an ornament might suddenly be whispering plans to him! The fairies will certainly be flitting about beckoning to boys and girls everywhere! And a future prince might find the perfect dragon to befriend to lead him to the princess! There will be the tinkling and the chiming of ice-like glass and the fire-hot breath of so many colors! The whole room will become an enchanting garden scene. If you are the parent you just may soon become a fairy godmother or a powerful magician! What a great way to lead your children to bed real early before Santa comes!
As for the rest of us adults, we are children as well. Somewhere in our hearts we share the intimacy and the surprise, the wonder and the hope. The ceramic ornaments by Jose Arriolla of Guatemala express this deep truth within each of us. There’s magic realism in his art, vivid colors and stark designs. When gazing at his flowers or stars we see the absolute authenticity of the object. The tree itself seems to honor and hold up this authenticity, the beauty down deep, the soul. So it is with us! After all, if you think about it, we are each stars and flowers. We are whatever we want to be in our minds. In this way, the tree is the gateway to our dreams!
There’s more. There are ornaments of birds and shooting stars, butterflies and hearts! Are we those as well? Of course we are! As we sit with husband or wife and brother or sister we can jump into the many scenes for a moment in time. Like our children, we can have the courage to open our hearts to the universes within universes and then (like true adventurers) return again to the people we know. And every time we return we bring back one more tiny blessing from the ornaments, from so many exquisite worlds within them, from the tree itself, from the forest where the tree was born, from the earth that holds the forest. This blessing we can share within our warm homes and our extended community with joy and actions refreshed with love. We can smile to ourselves with a new secret, a new magic. And we can thank our lovely Christmas tree for its shining message and share it with so many new friends!