It’s the first decoration that goes on my Christmas tree and the last one to come down.
My Christmas dove sits on the highest branch, seeming to observe our comings and goings during the holiday season. I give this white dove a place of honor to remind me of someone very special.
You see, the ornamental bird came from one of the floral arrangements at my beloved grandfather’s funeral back in July of 1984.
I was the first grandchild so my grandfather and I shared a very close relationship. With the exception of my parents, my grandfather had more influence on me than anyone else. So much of who I am is because of him.
He had a heart attack while our extended family was traveling home from a family reunion. It was before cell phones so we had no idea what was awaiting us at home. It was also before 9-1-1 so in the confusion of trying to get help on a Sunday afternoon, precious time was lost. He passed away during the night.
The funeral was a blur. I was a newlywed so I was thankful to have a loving husband to hold my hand and help me through it. I remember a point in the drive to the cemetery where I very tangibly felt the comfort of Jesus as well. Later in the afternoon, after the guests had left my grandmother’s house, we drove back to the cemetery to have a closer look at the beautiful floral arrangements sent by friends.
That is when I spotted the small white dove.
I don’t remember which arrangement it was on. It may have been on the casket spray. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, I just knew I wanted it as a memento. Besides, it would have probably been thrown away with the rest of the flowers as they decayed.
Five months later, my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together. I remembered the dove I had saved and knew exactly where it belonged – on the top of our Christmas tree! That is where it has been for 32 Christmases.
The dove on my tree does not possess any magical or spiritual qualities. It doesn’t represent my grandfather looking down on me from heaven. (Personally, I believe that people in heaven have far more important things to do than to look down on this messy planet. Things like praising God with the angels and worshipping Him with the other saints). No, the Christmas dove simply reminds me of someone whom I loved very much.
It reminds me of my generous, loving grandfather and how he made Christmas such a memorable time. I remember . . .
- Seeing him at the table signing and addressing hundreds of Christmas cards – he started in August so they could be mailed early enough to arrive the day after Thanksgiving
- The smell of the dozens of fruitcakes my grandmother made for him to give away
- The life-size nativity in his front yard
- The abundance of delicious food for our traditional Christmas eve dinner
- The plethora of gifts
underaround the Christmas tree and how he would pass them out to everyone
When I walk by my Christmas tree and see the white dove perched up on top, it brings back so many good memories of my grandfather and of Christmases past. It also reminds me that one day I will see him again. Whenever that day comes, I imagine as I arrive in heaven, my grandfather will turn and say “Oh, hello Kim Kim. It’s so good to see you again”! And then envelop me in one of his hugs.
Merry Christmas Grandaddy!