My grandmother loved angels. Collecting angels became a hobby of hers years ago, and she literally had them EVERYWHERE. Figurines, magnets, pins, and – of course – ornaments on her beloved Christmas tree.
When she passed away back in September, I wanted a constant reminder of her and so setting up my own angel tree in her memory was a natural connection. With the exception of a few ornaments of my own, it contains many of her own angel ornaments that she collected – and even some that she made – on my tree. It’s topped with one of her angel tree toppers, skirted with her angel blanket, and wrapped in bead garland that she stranded herself.
It is the epitome of my grandmother – pure, delicate, and beautiful. I miss her so much but know that she continues to shine on even brighter than the lights on that tree.
I mentioned her Christmas tree in my speech at her funeral since it was one thing she cherished – other things included her family. I’ve included my speech below, more as an archive for myself to have so that I never forget those words and how I felt in the moment that I wrote and recited them, but I thought they may bring comfort to others:
There were 2 pictures hanging in my grandparents’ house. One was a picture my sister had drawn of beautiful Easter eggs – perfectly shaded without a mark outside the lines. The other was a lopsided, scribbled self-portrait of yours truly. Now I could use the excuse that I was 2 years younger and my fine motor skills weren’t quite developed yet, but honestly I’m not sure I could do much better today.
I don’t know what happened to those pictures when Gandy sold her house, but to me, they will always represent one thing that I know about my grandparents – they loved unconditionally and whole-heartedly. It didn’t matter that one picture was obviously much more polished than the other, they loved them both the same because they were created by us. That love my grandmother had for us carried on as my sister and I got older, becoming typical teenagers that loved to pick on her, she would just give us a side look and call us “silly” (her sweet, grandmotherly way of calling us obnoxious). What’s funny is that I see that same look from my 1-year-old daughter now too!
Looking through photos of my grandma the other night, her love is evident in so many other areas – the love she had for my grandfather, her siblings, and for so many lifelong friends (many of whom were were waiting for her in heaven already), and for her Christmas tree. She was so proud of her tree and loved Christmas as much as the rest of us Carter girls. I loved seeing her big smile and face of pure joy in so many of those photos. In her last couple years, when that smile was harder to capture, you could see it when her great-grandchildren came to visit. That same love she had for my sister and I grew exponentially for her 4 great-grandchildren, and I’ll cherish every memory and photo that we were able to have with them together.
Here is also a photo montage of her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e37sak79h2o
With the holidays upon us, I’d like to implore you to use your own creativity to honor those you love, cherish the memories of those you lost, and thank God for this season of reflections and blessings.