Shiny Brite Christmas

Red birds, in particular, are hopeful when skies are gray.
Red birds, in particular, are hopeful when skies are gray.

I don’t have a lot of happy childhood memories of Christmas. My dad, who just happened to be a fallen-away Jehovah’s Witness, hated the holiday, and without meaning to, he often spoiled things for everyone. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, because they are the same old story acted out in many homes. Alcohol mixed with melancholy makes a nasty brew.

I probably go over the top at Christmas, but I don't care.
I probably go over the top at Christmas, but I don’t care.

Christmas is always a challenge, but I decided, long ago, to enjoy it. In fact, I celebrate it with gusto. This year, however, is particularly challenging. I keep thinking of  the poor people of Newton, Connecticut–their hopes and dreams like shattered glass. As a parent, I am anxious about my own children’s safety. I know the rest of the country has similar nightmares. I combat the overwhelming sadness with my belief in God. I am making the holiday as bright as I may. Bowls of mercury glass ornaments adorn most surfaces. Sadness melts away when you gaze into something so simple and beautiful, and yet, you know everything and everyone is fragile.

Shiny Brites and other vintage and reproduction ornaments are lovely in glass containers.
Shiny Brites and other vintage and reproduction ornaments are lovely in glass containers.

These glass bells, balls and reflectors dotted with mica remind me of all that’s good in Christmas. It is a time of beauty and cheer if we wish it so. If we decide to do what matters and hold our families close, we will find joy in the smallest things. When I was very little, a box of Shiny Brites cost all of 45¢. Even my very-young and poor mother, only seventeen, could afford a box from T.G.&Y. or Spartan’s. I distinctly remember pink and red balls and glass bells striped with mica. By the time I was old enough to pay attention to such things, Shiny Brite had already closed its doors because plastic was more durable. Uglier too. We must not be like plastic, all durable and unfeeling.

The nativity.
The nativity

All of us are sad this Christmas over what might have been, but I do believe those who weep and mourn will be comforted.

Let us lift up all those who are hurt. Let us bind up their wounds and offer the light of friendship and love. The little child who came over 2,000 years ago wouldn’t want us to despair. May all of you have a shiny and bright Christmas, the best way you can.