The last ornament I put on my tree is the felt angel with blond hair made of yellow yarn and white wings on her back. Every year I’m amazed at how fresh and new she looks, despite her age of at least 40 years. But like all the ornaments on my tree, the angel has a story.
I was working as a special education kindergarten teacher in a local school, and I was lucky enough to have the help of a wonderful woman named Donna. I was in my mid-twenties and still a young married woman without children. So, while I was a competent teacher who cared deeply for my students and worked hard to help them learn, Donna, who was about ten years older, had the practical wisdom about children that can only come from one experience: being a mother.
Donna’s talents complemented mine beautifully—I planned the lessons and showed her my ideas for classroom materials, then Donna would set about making my bulletin boards or fashioning characters out of felt so that the students could create their own stories in the playhouse that Donna built. I was neat and made sure the kids cleaned up all the time, but at the end of the day, Donna tidied up after me—straightening chairs and sharpening pencils for the next day.
Donna and I worked together for almost three years, and every Christmas we exchanged small gifts. We both loved to sew and were always making clothes, items for the home, or cross-stitching pictures. I don’t remember what I gave Donna that year, but the morning of the last day before Christmas break, Donna handed me a gift bag and simply said, “For your tree.”
I moved the tissue paper aside and smiled as I lifted out an angel made of felt and yarn.
“Donna, she’s beautiful,” I said. “I have this pattern as well and have been making ornaments, but I didn’t make the angel.”
And every year when I put the angel on the top of my tree, I think of Donna and appreciate the care she put into making this lovely ornament. I’m so grateful for her help and for the angel that reminds me of all that we shared.