Tracing the Light

The clearance sign caught his attention, and he turned toward it. On a table lay a dozen or so ornaments, discounted with yellow stickers. A scattered mess, really; one glass toy soldier with a chipped boot, and a candy cane whose faded glitter paint streaked the tablecloth. But Ryan’s fingers reached for the one with shiny, metal letters. “Hope,” it read, and the fluorescent lights above gave it a complimentary glimmer. He looped his thumb through its ribbon and walked to the Walgreen’s register. Then he pulled enough coins from the pocket of his ironed slacks and bought the ornament before the mirage of hope could pass.

Years later he remained grateful for that sudden impulse to begin the tradition. His ornament collection had now surpassed that of anyone he knew. Each December he made it his aim to find ones with meaning, and each counted as a nugget of grace to be held.

Then one holiday season, he began giving ornaments away as gifts to friends in his office, and neighbors, and his sister who lived in another state. To think he used to consider it a waste of money, reserved for well-wishers and those who clung to clichés. But, at the top of the Christmas tree triangle, like an arrow, it pointed to heaven. He hated to sound cliché, but heaven meant so much to him, not because a long-ago deceased relative lived there, but because Jesus did. The child who came, born in a manger, grew up to be the risen Savior.

“Immanuel, God with us,” one ornament proclaimed with words painted on a bell, as if ringing out the good news for those weary and burdened.

His eyes traced the upward flow of the Christmas lights on his tree. This year, he bought a new set with changing colors and patterns, also programmable to match the beat of music. The tree, the lights, the ornaments, they weren’t a hassle, but a testimony of God’s love in Jesus. A reminder for him. Did they remind others? He would keep buying ornaments for the people he loved, and he would keep pointing to Christ to share the hope.



2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Writing Prompt: Write about the origin of one particular ornament on your Christmas tree, and describe why it's meaningful to you.

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