Laurie hung the little drum ornament on the Christmas tree. How many times had she heard her mother say that the drum was at least seventy-five years old and had hung on her great-grandparents’ tree!
She stepped back and studied the tree. It looked awful! The branches were loaded with mismatched ornaments, most of them older than she was. Aluminum foil stars that she had made in school and lace angels that her younger sister, Angie, had made were bent and tattered. As usual, Dad had strung homemade popcorn and looped it over the branches. Mom had even added some pinecones from last summer’s vacation.
Laurie felt ashamed of the tree. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as her friends’ trees. Tracy’s had matching red ornaments and twinkling white lights. Debbie’s looked very modern with candy-striped ribbons and bows and shiny gold balls.
Laurie dropped onto the sofa. “Mom, why don’t we throw out these junky old ornaments and buy new ones?”
“Honey, these old ornaments are very dear to us. Each of them is full of memories. Remember when you and I made this Santa out of dough the year of the bad snowstorm?”
Laurie did remember. The storm had raged outside as she and Mom sat at the kitchen table, carefully forming the little Santa. They had also baked gingerbread men with raisin buttons, and the warm kitchen had smelled deliciously of Christmas spice.
“But our tree looks so old-fashioned and cluttered.”
“I guess we’re just an old-fashioned family,” Dad said.
“Why don’t you like our tree, Laurie?” Angie asked. “I think it’s beautiful!”
“Oh, you just don’t understand!” Laurie shouted, pushing herself up from the sofa and stamping out of the room. Angie’s too young, she thought. I used to think our junky tree was beautiful too. Now I can see how ugly it is!
She went to her room and sat on the edge of her bed. “I can’t let my friends see our tree,” she murmured. “They’d laugh at it.”
“Laurie,” Angie said the next day when Laurie came home from the store with Mom, “Tracy’s waiting for you in the living room.”
“Tracy’s in by our tree? Oh, no!”
With a sinking feeling, Laurie entered the living room. Tracy was kneeling on the floor, looking at the tree, but she wasn’t laughing. “Where’s the little bluebird ornament?” she asked.
“Ah, over here.” Laurie pointed to a faded little bird among the branches.
“I just love that!” Tracy sighed. “And look, here’s the bell ornament you made in Miss Miller’s class. Wasn’t that fun! Mine got thrown out.”
Tracy eagerly searched the branches of the tree, delighting in the ornaments that hung thickly there. Soon Laurie was lying on the floor beside her, gazing up into the branches. When she told her friend about the drum, Tracy reacted enthusiastically. “Really? This little drum was on your great-grandmother’s tree? Wow! What a great Christmas tree!”
“But it isn’t as beautiful as your tree, Tracy.”
“Yes, our tree is pretty, but there’s more to your tree than can be seen with just the eyes. I don’t know. …” She seemed to be searching for the right words. “I guess your tree brings back lots of neat memories.”
After Tracy left, Laurie remained on the floor, chin propped on her hands, and stared at the Christmas tree. Funny, she thought, a few hours ago I thought this tree was ugly. I envied Tracy’s red and white Christmas tree. I was looking at it—and ours—with only my eyes.
“What are you doing, Laurie?” asked Angie, coming into the room.
Laurie smiled at her little sister. “I’m must lying here admiring our beautiful Christmas tree.”