Courage at Twilight: Decorating the Christmas Tree

Steven and I pulled the black garbage bags off the high closet shelf.  Each bag held a section of the Christmas tree.  Boxes of ornaments and lights followed.  My brother Steven was visiting for the week from North Carolina, visiting his beloved, elderly parents.  We spread and fluffed the wire branches, wound bright tinsel ropes, strung strings of white lights, and hung red baubles and ornaments.  Many of the ornaments were homemade, some decades ago in our New Jersey childhood home.  Ornaments made from the lids of frozen orange juice cans, punched with nails in patterns, and painted by little children.  Steven was two years old when I left home for a university 2,200 miles away.  How does an adult brother have a meaningful relationship with a distant two-year-old in the 1980s when long-distance calls cost as much as mortgage payments?  He doesn’t.  But I am in my late 50s now, and he in his early 40s, and the ages no longer matter.  We are brothers, sons of common parents, and we are friends.  Steve laughed as he hung a particular ancient ornament, a humble thing belonging only on our family tree.  We turned the lights on with pleasure, and stood back and looked at the Christmas tree with pleasure.  And Mom’s and Dad’s faces lit up with love and smiles to see their little boy all grown up into the best kind of man.


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