This year Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. To ease the burden of doubled worship services, the ministers reached out to the Preacher Pack to to deliver “homilettes,” short reflections, for the morning services. The theme: Ornamental Love.

To view these reflections on traditions, love, mystery, collections, and ornaments, click YouTube link below. The service begins at about ten minutes in. “Ragged Angel” is my ornamental love reflection.

Ragged Angel

How many of you have felt like this at some point since Thanksgiving?  Raggedy. Falling apart.

Maybe you’re frazzled with all the seasonal extra. Or maybe this is your insides—sad and ragged holiday emotions.

My mom made this angel.

When her nest emptied at the end of the 70s, mom—queen of fidget and can’t-sit-still—took a deep macramé dive.

My brother and I would return home between semesters to discover macramé curtains, bookshelves, and plant hangers. I scored a macramé hanging table and a belt organizer for my college apartment.

A few Christmases into the macramé phase, we came home to a macramé evergreen. Not a whole tree of macramé, but rather a whole lot of macraméd candy canes, Santa beards, candles, snowflakes, and angels hanging on the Douglas fir.

This was a pivot in mom’s tree approach. In the 70s, she taught us to fling tinsel with flair, like a chef’s final je ne sais quoi finishing sprig on a signature dish. Mom also taught us to wrap the white lights close to and all the way up the trunk, then drape colorful lights on the outer branches, around that soft inner glow. Her trees were shiny and bright.

This angel, not so much.

My Ornamental Love

I’m not sure what a season is in angel years nor what the lifespan of macramé angels should be, but this one has been rocking around trees and ornament boxes for about 40 years. And I’ll keep her another 40 if I survive that long.

Mom was still ambulatory her last Christmas. She helped us hang her macramé ornaments on the Leland cypress. The next morning, I visited to find a pile of them on the piano bench. She had removed them. Every day until Christmas, we returned the ornaments to the tree in the morning, and, inevitably, she removed them when dad or the sitter wasn’t watching.

Mom’s mind was ragged with Alzheimer’s. We didn’t wait until Epiphany to remove the decorations that year because keeping them on the tree was amusing but mostly exhausting.

I had already distributed some of the macramé ornaments to the grandchildren as mementos when mom stopped walking. Before Epiphany. Eight days after her last Christmas.

I kept an angel.

I feel ragged around the edges, especially around the holidays when mom’s absence fills all the rooms. But mom’s ragged angel makes me smile. She’s cute in a shabby not-so-chic way, like mom at the end, when her beautiful aura filled all the vacancies her brain created.

I don’t think I’ll ever not feel mom’s absence during the holidays. It’s inevitable. AND I don’t want the biggest memory of her to be her decline. Things she left behind help me alchemize the sadness and focus on her love and energy. This angel helps me remember that spunky restless redhead.

I hope everyone has a ragged angel to brighten the season and ease the inevitabilities. I hope everyone as an alchemizing ornament to hang on their tree.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023