I wish I could remember all the details of this day. Tom and I were off of school because it was right before Christmas. I was in middle school, so he must have been in elementary. Mom was at work, and we were in the midst of a blinding blizzard.
We were bored and looking for absolutely anything to do. There were only three channels on the T.V. and no gaming systems. So, we decided to make Christmas tree ornaments. But we quickly found that we had no supplies. What to do?
The obvious answer was to 'risk our lives' and go to the store. The closest of which was a mile away in a large mall.
Wait. We have no money.
We began to search every nook and cranny of our townhouse. We found $1.37 in change under the couch cushions, dresser drawers, kitchen junk drawers, and at the bottom of the coat closet. We bundled up in our knock off moon boots and snow pants to trudge through the blowing snow towards Woodland Mall Kmart. We arrived frozen and covered in snow but no longer bored.
We hiked from JC Penney, past the kids' play pit, to the end of the mall, searching for a blue light special. Scanning the shelves, we found a plastic cylinder of multicolored glitter and an itty-bitty bottle of Elmer's Glue. We excitedly paid with our dirty, sticky coins and rushed home. I don't remember the walk home. We were too busy pretending to be snow warriors.
You can't make an ornament out of glitter and a smidge of glue, so we looked around for some cardboard. We found some of mom's shirt boxes for wrapping presents and then Christmas cookie cutters so that we could skip the creative drawing part of the process. We knew that we shouldn't be cutting up the boxes but decided to do it anyway and not tell mom. (shhh!) We stole a few hooks from other ornaments and carefully cut the thin cardboard into classic Christmas shapes. Then we glued hooks and as much glitter as possible to our creations.
We placed our creations on the tree, and excitedly told Mom about our adventure the next morning. It was several days before she found the trashed boxes.
Nowadays, we have very few items from our childhood due to frequent messy moves, and only one of our "beautiful" ornaments survived - the Star. Somehow, we were able to safeguard this precious Star until we were adults. We decided that we would take turns placing it on our Christmas trees. For at least 20 years, this fragile Star has been given a place of honor on our trees. Each year we carefully exchange the Star and share a loving memory that warms our hearts. And when it is our turn to have the Star, we post a picture on Facebook and share the memory with our friends and families. But mainly we remember that day together.
The lesson in this memory for me is that you can find joy anywhere, and anyhow, as long as you search with an open heart. Happiness isn't about money or things. It's about finding the joy where you are with the ones you love. And then you get to keep the memory as a souvenir.
What's your Star?
P.S. 2020 being how it is, my brother didn't put up a tree this year. It makes sense when you are planning to have zero visitors. So, he gave the Star back to me via 6 feet of social distancing. I am glad to enjoy it and happy to say that it too will survive this year.