The Angel Lady, a Christmas tradition at our house.
|THE ANGEL LADY
With our children grown and gone, my wife and I have decided to downsize this Christmas.
This year, we’ll have just a small tree; not one of those six or seven footers we’ve struggled to decorate in the past. Hauling one of those huge
Frazier furs up our front steps takes a lot of muscle, something I’m a little short of these days.
Our kids will tell us that we’re breaking tradition; that Christmas won’t seem like Christmas without a giant tree at Mom and Dad’s. When they lay that on us, we’ll remind them that it’s the angel in the top of the tree that’s traditional, not the size of the tree.
When our daughter was about three, she gave the angel a name. “Mama, can I put the Angel Lady on the tree this year?” Before that, it was simply “The Angel.”
Maybe this year, we’ll let our one-year old granddaughter put the Angel Lady on the tree. We’ll hold her up and help her hang it on the top stalk, just like we did with her father, aunt and uncle before her. And, we’ll caution her as we cautioned them, “Do it gently Lottie, the Angel Lady will break easily and is very old.”
The Angel Lady isn’t what you’d call an elegant Christmas ornament. It’s made of worn-out cardboard and cheap plastic. Its angel face isn’t really a face at all, but just a pooched-out piece of pink plastic, held together by a patchwork of scotch tape and rusty old staples.
On Christmas Eve, 1958, my wife and I bought The Angel Lady for 25 cents at the corner drug store across from McCoy Methodist Church in Birmingham. Those were difficult times and, as poor college students, the wolf was always at the door.
We were eighteen-year-old newly weds living in a tiny barracks apartment on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College, and The Angel Lady was the final decoration for our first Christmas tree.
The tree was a scrawny four-foot pine I’d cut down with a hatchet off the side of the road. There was no tinsel on it, or artificial snow or candy canes; only a few borrowed ornaments from my wife’s parents. But the new angel made the drab, bare apartment feel festive and bright.
For 47 years The Angel Lady has been a benevolent presence in our house at Christmas time. She was there during the lean times but, in retrospect, the lean times were really good times. During the Army years, she traveled with us from post to post throughout the Country and she shared with us those fantasy-like white Christmases in Europe.
She was there during the youth of our marriage. She was there for the birth and exciting Christmas mornings of our children and grandchildren. And, God willing, she’ll be with us for all our remaining Christmases.
That is why the Angel Lady is a Christmas tradition at our house.
If the Angel Lady had real ears and could hear, we’d ask her to continue to bless our family at Christmas time.
And Angel Lady, if you’ve got any influence with the Man upstairs, please ask him to give this weary old world some peace and love in the coming year.