The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
I’ve shared every Christmas of my life with the old star that sits atop our family’s Christmas tree. I inherited the ornament years ago when my parents decided to downsize for the holidays.
Manufactured by the NOMA Electric Corporation in the 1940s (makers of the once popular Christmas tree bubble lights), the star is made from two pieces of pressed sheet metal, one slightly larger than the other. The smaller front piece is covered in white enamel and lightly brushed with blue. The larger piece provides the background and is painted red for contrast. A tiny dot of red glass occupies the star’s center. A small lightbulb inserted into the back of the star produces a warm, indirect glow.
That’s how I describe it. Most people who see the star would choose descriptive words like old and worn—and not without reason. The star sports numerous scratches and dents garnered from its six decades of Christmas appearances.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, every other star on every other Christmas tree pales in comparison to this gem. It is the Christmas star of my childhood. And the longer I live, the more beautiful it becomes.
Looking at the old star brings back vivid memories of childhood holidays, like sitting at the top of our stairs at the first light of Christmas morning with my brother Steve, attempting to make just the right amount of noise—enough to get people stirring, but not enough to make anyone angry.
It reminds me of favorite childhood Christmas gifts: a Red Ryder® BB gun, the giant motorized aircraft carrier Mighty Matilda, a Mattel VAC-U-FORM™.
The star evokes warm memories of a lazy Susan brimming with English walnuts, chocolates, and oranges; of cheerful family gift exchanges around the Christmas tree; of Christmas dinner at our large kitchen table; and of listening to my father read the Christmas story. It reminds me that each Christmas still offers a unique opportunity to create lasting memories with family and friends.
The old star has become part of our family’s Christmas heritage. It’s a symbol of the holiday traditions Ree and I share with our children, which are a blending of traditions passed on to us by our parents. Before we were born, our parents shared similar traditions with their parents. Looking at the old star reminds me that our lives impact not only our children, but our children’s children, and their children after them.
What I appreciate most about the old star is that it represents to me the true meaning of Christmas. I rarely look at it without recalling the star of Bethlehem that led an ancient band of Persian wise men to the Son of God—a reaffirmation that Christmas, above all else, is about hope.
The older I get, the more sentimental I become—and the more my heart warms each Christmas season as we unpack our ornaments and bring out the old Christmas star. As I place it at the top of our Christmas tree, I am reminded to praise God for his eternal purpose, thank him for his mercy, love him for his sacrifice, and serve him with gratitude and joy.
This editorial is adapted from one that first appeared in the December 16, 2001 issue of The Lookout.
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