The Best Gift is Hope

This is dedicated to one of my best friends, Debbie. I love you.

These ornaments are getting old and the bow is a bit wrinkled but I can’t help feeling joy when I look at them.

There’s a bit of a story to these, so I hope you will indulge me. About 16 years ago, my husband left me, so it was just me and my son together. He also racked up a considerable debt before leaving the state, and I was left to pay it off. It was near Christmas and I had no money. When I say “no money” I mean I had NO MONEY – I was eating rice and would get a bag of veggies each week that the grocery store was going to throw out. I would buy 1 package of hotdogs a week so my 3 year old son had meat. We had no phone. No tv. No car. The electric company was threatening to shut our heat off.

And I was losing sleep over holiday gifts.   All that to deal with and I was worried about gifts.  Can you believe that?  Yes, I bet you can.

For my son’s gift an appliance store gave me a few boxes that washers and dryers had come in. I hooked them together, painted them, and made a castle for him to play in. Cut windows and doors. That was the best I could do.

For my parents and for my sister and her husband, I didn’t know what to do. After racking my brain for the 100th time in month, I sat down on the step of the entry to my house. I was in tears, ready to give up on more than just gift ideas. I raised my eyes towards the ceiling as if I could somehow find inspiration there. The only thing there was the old chandelier. I had hated that chandelier and my husband had swore that we would buy a new one, but we never got around to it and now he was gone and the chandelier remained. Ain’t that a hoot?  The chandelier was ugly, but it had all these crystals hanging down and it was the crystals that caught my eye. An idea was forming.

I took off all the crystals and reused the hooks from my old ornaments (no, I couldn’t even buy new hooks) to hang the crystals. Then I looked through a bag of old ribbon and I tied bits of ribbon onto the hooks to dress them up. That was it.

I made a set for my parents and one for my sister and her husband and I kept one set for myself. My family loved them, but they hold special meaning for me. I celebrate the Solstice instead of Christmas, but the meaning should carry through just fine. This season is about (for many) either the rebirth of the Sun or the birth of the Son – a time of light and hope and joy after the deepest and longest darkness. And that’s what those ornaments mean to me. I created them in what was probably the darkest time in my life, and yet I held onto hope that my life would get better.

The dawn came. Life got better, hope was fulfilled. The next year when I unpacked the ornaments, I realized how much my life had changed for the better. And each year after that. So I hope this didn’t bore you, I just wanted to share this because I know many people are having a tough time right now – financially, emotionally. You may not be able to afford to give a single gift and so the surface spirit of the season, with its emphasis on gifts, is exceptionally painful.  You may feel alone, or abandoned, or burdened with more than you can shoulder. But there is hope, even when it is darkest.  Dawn will come.

All of us at PNC-Minnesota wish our readers a very Bight Solstice!

This editorial was originally published on Patheos.