When I got married in 2003 I decided I would buy a “family” ornament each year at Christmas. Our first Christmas I bought a beautiful glass heart ornament engraved with the words “Our First Christmas Keenan and Bonnie 2003”. Unfortunately, the very next year, I spiraled into a depression. My poor newly married husband! I was struggling so deep in an identity crisis. Things I had buried and tried to ignore were surfacing and I thought that marrying the man of my dreams would fix it. It had nothing to do with Keenan. I had not entered into the brokenness of my spirit. I was drinking and eating to numb. Losing my mind and gaining weight. But Christmas was coming, so I went to Kohl’s and looked for an ornament to put on the tree.
The Christmas spirit was everywhere but in my heart. I scanned the selection, finally deciding on a simple snowman. I pulled it from the display tree, bought it, took it home and scribbled 2004 on the bottom of his rump in black sharpie. Box checked. It was a rough start to wedded bliss but eventually through prayer, counseling, medication and a committed husband I began to see the light again. Slowly I emerged from the darkness. I would buy many more personalized Christmas ornaments: Parents to Be, baby’s first Christmas, Our First Home, Family of 3, Baby’s First Christmas, Big Brother, Family of 4, Baby’s First Christmas, Family of 5 etc. Every year I enjoy pulling out each individual ornament and savoring the memory associated with it. But when I get to the little snowman ornament, it’s always the same reaction year after year- I grimace. Sadness. Anger. Pain. What an awful time. An awful memory.
Stupid snowman ornament. (As if he was to blame)
But somehow this year I missed him- probably because my kids like to “help” decorate the tree and the jog down memory lane quickly turns into a sprint. I didn’t see the little guy- or think about him until I started taking down the decorations after the New Year. I was carefully pulling special ornaments off the tree and gently placing them in a sectioned storage box to put in the basement until next year. And when I reached around to the back of the tree, I found him. Tucked away on an odd branch that one of my children must have chosen. I pulled him off and was shocked by my own reaction.
I held this hard piece of plastic- this reminder of a hard time, and I felt… JOY. Deep overwhelming joy. I realized that this tiny little snowman showed up for me in the darkest night with an ever so small light of hope. The hope that in total darkness you can still see a single light. In the middle of sadness and depression he brought me a moment of joy in the aisle of a department store. I was suddenly filled with gratitude. And then I heard my own voice say, “thank you.” It was like in an instant my perspective changed and I saw this sweet snowman in a different light. Not a reminder of pain but a promise of hope. He was a life line during a time that I was drowning. He gave me enough light to see through that year. Enough light to hold on until the next Christmas when the light would be brighter. Just enough light to hold onto until I could fan the flame into something bigger and until the bright light of friends and family could join with mine. And for that
stupid sweet snowman, I am thankful.
Darkness can never fully extinguish a single light.
It may be small, but as long as you’re breathing, it is there. Just hold on. Walk in the light you are given until the path is illuminated and you can walk into the brightness of the dawn. Full of hope and light to share with others who are struggling in the dark.