Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Story

I recently went on my annual Chicago shopping trip with Momma T. Of course we had a great time. As usual, we did very little purchasing of Christmas presents and spent the most amount of time and money eating, drinking and chatting.

Being one of three daughters, I cherish the one-on-one time and attention with my parents. It is hard to come by, making it a very valuable thing. The time my mom and I spent chatting was my favorite aspect of the trip. We do a lot of storytelling in my family, so imagine my surprise as Momma T and I sat in a dark pub one afternoon and she told me a story I had never heard before. It was about how a tradition of hers got started.

Every year Momma T buys herself that year’s Swarovski Chrystal snowflake ornament. Each year is different and unique. If I recall, the earliest year she has is 1994. This is the story of where she got her first ornament and how the collection started…

In 1994, our family suffered a tragic loss. My cousin, out late one night during her freshman year of college was brutally assaulted and murdered. It’s a hard picture to paint, but it is important to understand the struggle our family was going through, individually struggling to find meaning and purpose.

Mom was grief-stricken and heartsick while also worried about the future of our family. As is the way with these types of events, life didn’t stop and wait for her grief. She had to plug forward despite the sadness that surrounded her.

It was the holidays and Momma T was at the time pursuing her Bachelors in Nursing degree. On one exceptionally tough day, she was meeting with her schoolmates on a group project. She had a breakdown. She told the group about the struggles the family and she herself was going through, how particularly hard the holidays seemed.

Now I’m assuming those schoolmates knew what I have come to learn about my Mom, how compassionate and warm hearted she is, how much she does for others while rarely asking for the same compassion in return. Knowing this, they recognized the opportunity to do something for the women that is so supportive. The all chipped in and purchased her a Swarovski ornament.

That ornament warmed her heart. It meant so much to Momma T, that she has continued to purchase a new one every year since, honoring her niece and the loving support of her peers during a particularly tough time.

Growing up I’ve always admired these ornaments, even purchased one for her, but I never knew the value and meaning behind them. She now has almost 20 beautiful, unique ornaments that she proudly displays year-round on what she’s named the Stephanie tree.

Thank you Mom for sharing that story.

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