The Christmas Angel

For as long as she could remember, Julie's parents put the Christmas tree up on the day after Thanksgiving. The entire family would gather to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday and then stay to decorate the Christmas tree on Friday. Early on the morning after Thanksgiving, Julie's dad and two brothers, along with any other male relatives willing to brave the cold and often snowy mountains of Montana, would venture into the wilderness to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Upon their return to the house, a family celebration that involved her mother’s hot chocolate and strings of cranberries and pop corn would begin. Everyone would pitch in and before you could say, “Merry Christmas,” the tree was decorated and the entire family circled the tree for the grand finale – one final tradition in the annual tree decorating ritual.

Each year, the youngest member of the clan had the honor of placing the Christmas Angel on the top of the tree. The year Julie turned six she was still the youngest member of the clan (for the 3rd year in a row) and in charge of the Christmas Angel.

The entire family watched as she climbed carefully up the portable ladder. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to look at her mother who was sitting on the sofa near the fireplace. With the Christmas Angel still clutched in her hand, she climbed back down the ladder, walked over to her mother, and handed her the angel. “Mommy, I almost forgot. God told me you are supposed to put the Christmas Angel on the tree this year.”

You could hear the silence in the room. Puzzled expressions ranged from shock and surprise to bewilderment and curiosity. Julie's mother paused and smiled tenderly before gently caressing Julie's cheek. “All right, sweetie. If God told you I should do it this year, then of course I will.”

That picture of Julie's mother placing the Christmas Angel atop the tree that year would never be forgotten. You see, young Julie and her family had no way of knowing that this was to be her mother’s last Christmas with them. The following month she was diagnosed with brain cancer and three months later she was gone.

To this day, whenever the Christmas Angel is placed on the tree, Julie always remembers her mother’s smile and gentle touch – and the picture of her placing the Christmas Angel on the tree, then turning to her family and saying, “ Merry Christmas everyone!”


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