With the beginning of Advent this week the boys and I have been working on preparing the house for Christmas. Monday was pretty painless–just hanging a few lights in the windows. Today was a bit more challenging. Yesterday was supposed to be the day to put up the tree, but it was a busy day so I promised the boys we’d do it today before school. Pre-lit trees are terrific, until the lights don’t work, which was the case today. All of the time I have saved in the past years not having to put lights on the tree I spent today cutting and unwinding the no longer functioning lights off the tree. The wire cutters were very valuable, but a bit of a hazard too. Sebastian was delighted with the lights and the wires and kept trying to plug the lights into the outlets. I asked Jack to be sure that Sebastian didn’t plug in the lights and looked up again just in time to see him cutting the plugs off the working set of lights to prevent Sebastian from plugging them in. So we have our tree two-thirds decorated, the remaining third waiting for us to get another strand of working lights.
Unpacking the ornaments and putting them on the tree was a great delight to the boys, and I must admit they did a very good job spreading them out around the tree and hanging the non-breakable ornaments toward the bottom. I was asked over and over again, “Is this one breakable?” Gabriel held up one of my childhood ornaments and I assured him it was very fragile. I did not immediately remove it to higher ground however and about sixty seconds later I heard the sound of glass breaking followed by a fearful, “I accidentally did that!” Sensing he was truly upset by his error, I suggested perhaps he should only pick up the non-breakable ones from then on. My boy responded as the first Adam did to his transgression by hiding. I noticed him missing and found him lying face down on his bed. When I sat down beside him he crawled into my lap and cried heart-broken sobs. It was a good trade-off: a broken ornament for the chance to see the tender heart of my son. And as I told him I loved him so much more than any ornament and that I appreciated so much that he was grieved at breaking something special to me, I was reminded of the great need for my children to see in my own actions that people are far more important than things. I was going to throw the ornament away at first, but I have decided to keep it. And though broken, it may become one of the most treasured on the tree as it reminds us of two things: the beauty of a broken and contrite heart and the importance of people over possessions.