I inherited one of the lighted ceramic Christmas trees my late grandmother made when she got into a ceramics kick with her beloved sisters, after their husbands were gone, but before their health made such activities impossible. The tree is one of my most treasured possessions, the only item to receive a gentle ride in the car with my kids and pets during our two multi-state moves. That TLC did not, however, protect it from all harm. Sometime a decade or so ago it cracked near the base, and a couple of small pieces broke off.
I’ve never known what happened; one year I opened it, and it was done. I assume its odd angles must not have received adequate cushioning in its box, its own weight providing pressure it could not withstand. Each year I have gingerly removed and displayed it anyway, turning the broken spot to the back. I have also watched with quiet concern as the crack grew a little each year, gradually creeping toward the top. This year my concern turned to alarm as the crack had passed the halfway point…something had to be done, the whole tree was now at risk. My husband told me to leave it alone, he thought it was too fragile. But I decided I’d rather try to fix it and risk losing it now, instead of passively waiting for the year I opened it with inevitable sadness.
The ceramic tree now has visible, amber glue in its visible crack, but the little pieces are back in their place, and it’s notably sturdier when I pick it up. The tree is back in its place of honor, lit up and making me smile when I pass it, the crack once again turned to the back. It’s bright and cheerful, and it makes me think of my grandmother who I got to spend so much of my life with. I feel much like the tree, older and worn and a little broken. But like the tree, my time is not over, and so I, too, will try to bring brightness and cheer to those whom I pass along the way.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway