When you make the sharp right turn to enter my parent’s neighborhood, as you drive down the wooded lane before you reach the opening of the wheat field, there’s a beautiful brick house.
Every autumn, once the turkey was eaten and November complete, the commencement of the holiday season was marked by the assembling of what I lovingly referred to as a child as “The Christmas Angels.” The owners of the brick home would place three beautiful wicker angels in their yard , a spotlight casting a warm glow so they appeared majestic amongst the fallen leaves. As we would drive down the dark road in my Mama’s old Mercury, we could see the glow of the angels as we reached the crest of the hill on Scandia, and I knew in my young heart that the Most Wonderful Time of Year had begun.
As a child, I was a creature of habit and tradition (not much has changed, if I’m being honest). As soon as the calendar read “December 1,” I would begin to look for the angels as my indication that Christmas was truly approaching. On my ninth year, I waited with the same bated breath as I had done every year prior. We would drive by the brick house nightly, ever curious when we would see The Angels. When the first week of December came and went and there were no angels in sight, my anxious heart began to worry. I wondered if maybe something had happened to the family? Maybe they moved? Maybe someone was sick? So, with Mama’s permission, I wrote them a letter. In my 5th grade penmanship, I wrote a letter that would alter the course of my family’s Christmas traditions for decades to comes.
I told these strangers who I was. I told them how, even if they didn’t realize it, The Angels they put in their yard had become one of my family’s most cherished Christmas traditions. I poured my sweet little heart into that letter, and in closing, I asked them, I pleaded with them, to let me come help them put The Angels up for Christmas.
I didn’t hear a direct reply, per se, but their response came loud and clear. The next night as we drove home, as we reached the crest of the hill on Scandia, a familiar glow could be seen in the distance. The Angels had found their way to their December home, right in the spotlight.
I walked into school the following Monday, filled to the brim with anticipation for start of the upcoming Christmas vacation, when my fourth grade teacher approached me and wrapped me in the biggest embrace. With tears in her eyes, she told me the truth of The Angel’s family. She said she went to visit her parents over the weekend and walked into their house to find her mother in the kitchen, her trembling hands holding a tear-stained letter. My letter. The Angel Family were the parents of my fourth grade teacher! The world, in this instant, seemed truly small.
For the next decade, The Angels continued to be our favorite holiday tradition. Every year, they stood proudly in the warm glow of their spotlight, trumpets pointed skyward in praise to the Newborn King. As a token of our gratitude, every Christmas Eve Mama and I would take a tin of homemade cookies to The Angel Family as well, a small gift for their contribution to our Christmas memories.
The year Matt and I were married, The Angels didn’t go up, and this time, I didn’t pry as to why. I assumed that after an additional 12 years of use, The Angels had finally aged to the point they were irreparable, or The Family simply couldn’t assemble them anymore. One December night, three Christmases ago, I drove to my parents house noting the missing Angels and how they had probably seen their last Christmas. As I approached my childhood home, I noticed a familiar glow through the trees.
The Angels. They were there, in my parent’s front yard, welcoming me home.
As a Christmas/wedding gift to Matt and I, The Angel Family had given us The Christmas Angels we so cherished. It truly was one of the best Christmas blessings I’ve ever received.