Red birds, ribbons, wreaths, and recovery….

I attended the 6th annual Festival of Trees this week here in Panama City, a fundraiser for the women’s residential addiction recovery program where I am employed. It was the most beautiful assortment of creative Christmas collectibles……trees, wreaths, centerpieces, gingerbread houses, arrangements, and decorative accents as well as gift items. All were being auctioned through silent bidding for several days. After careful consideration of space in my house and money in my wallet, I bid on two modest entries, appropriately scaled to fit both! I had to up my bids several times, but when the bidding closed I found that I had, in fact, successfully won both items, a tabletop tree and a wreath. JOY! It was like Christmas coming early.

Because of their sizes, I was able to walk out with them instead of having to have them delivered over the weekend. So now I have some fresh new items for holiday decorating this year. My Mother had asked me last week about a rather elaborate graduated three-ringed wreath I had made in 1983, copied actually from a designers’ display at the large Southern Homes and Gardens center in Montgomery, Al. Did I still have it, she asked. It’s true I used it for what seemed like decades, but it finally became so sad and worn that I retired it permanently. The few wreaths I’ve had since then have seemed pale by comparison.

Both of these new items feature cardinals, a theme that is well established in my home decorating year round, but which is especially nice to enhance at Christmas. Our grandchildren know my affection for cardinals and they will all be here for a few days before Christmas. No doubt they will notice the tree and wreath right away! Maybe I’ll plan a cardinal craft for all of us to do together for this annual “cousins’ camp” event at Gigi and Papa’s house.

I don’t know if cardinals are native to Israel, but I can imagine Jesus delighting in their beauty, just as I do. Whenever I see one, I smile and am reminded that God loves me, is near me, and is for me, three things worthy of celebration, as Rev. Rick Warren points out in his book The Purpose of Christmas. God has used cardinals to reassure me of His love and inspire me to celebration on many occasions.

Tomorrow my Christmas cardinals will be gracing tabletops, tree limbs, and wall areas all around my house. For a few weeks I will live in the midst of their constant reminder of God with us, Immanuel.