When Amy was a baby and George was in grad school we went to a small church that we absolutely loved. Looking back, I realize that our time in that church was the beginning–the time when I began to take my first few toddling steps toward an understanding of Grace. Our pastor and his wife were young and their second daughter was Amy’s age. They were great mentors for an aspiring young pastor and his wife. At Christmas they held an open house in their little home. They served Christmas cookies and hot cider and we all sat and talked by the light of their Christmas tree while the children ran all around. That night I decided that if we ever had a church of our own I wanted to do something similar.
I finally got my opportunity a few years later when we planted a church in Marion, North Carolina. I baked cookies and made candy, found a good hot cider recipe and decorated with the help of a Southern Living Christmas book my mother gave me. I wanted to make something for the families to take home, so I cross stitched tiny pictures and, with the help of curtain rings, made them into ornaments. We pinned them to a bulletin board and invited each family to choose one. Here’s the one that got left behind. It’s been on our tree ever since.
Over the years the number of people attending our open house grew, so the ornaments had to be a bit less time consuming to produce. Eventually the kids joined in and helped me. I remember years when we made candy cane reindeer and cosmetic puff snow men. None of those survive. I think my all-time favorites were just simple wreaths made out of eyelet, wire, and ribbon. We still have a couple of those on the tree each year. Sometimes the simple things are best.