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It was a wonderful, thoughtful gift to celebrate our first Christmas together as a married couple in 1975.
My great Aunt Julia loved to crochet. Her precious hands could create unmatchable beauty. And Christmas was her favorite holiday. So she blessed us that year with 25 magnificent white-starched crocheted snowflakes, each carefully wrapped in tissue paper.
The snowflakes were lovely enough, but it was the accompanying handwritten note we treasured as much as the ornaments.
“No two snowflakes are the same, just as no two people are the same. Each is unique and different and that’s what makes them so special. Always remember this throughout your married life. Love, Aunt Julia.”
And sure enough, just like in nature, not one of those 25 crocheted snowflakes were the same. Though similar in size, they each had their own remarkable characteristics. Miraculously, they’ve survived 42 Christmases covering several military moves, including one to Italy.
They’ve traveled from the East Coast to the West and many places in between. They’ve adorned our Christmas tree every year since 1975. And these precious gifts of love have never yellowed or faded over the years.
Even when we changed Christmas tree themes living in the desert or closer to the beach, the snowflakes have always been the shining stars on our tree. Family and friends marvel at their intricate designs and always ask where we got them.
A few years after our snowflake gift, arthritis set in and Aunt Julia could no longer crochet. That made her snowflakes even more special.
But there was even more magic in those crocheted snowflakes for they brought back precious family memories. Those Christmas get-togethers when my great-grandmother Baba was still alive and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all gathered together for the holidays. Back then, we all lived and grew up in the same Ohio town and holidays were a grand event.
There was Uncle Jack— loud, boisterous and always embellishing a story. Aunt Christina, who had to plant twenty red-lipsticks kisses on our faces and tell us we were too skinny and had to eat more. Uncle Steve, the worry-wart, Cousin Georgie always in trouble for not listening. Cousin Thom who’d play his beautiful sing-along tunes on the piano. And others too numerous to mention.
We were all so different yet everyone had a wonderful time because love was in the air and all around us as we shared the Christmas magic.
One common thread we all talked about was wondering if we’d have snow on Christmas. And just like a miracle some years, the snow would come down silently blanketing us in a mantle of white as we’d all leave Christmas Eve services together. Kids so excited we’d stick out our tongues hoping to capture a snowflake and then praying the white stuff would be wet enough to build a snowman.
That’s what the snowflakes bring with them each year we carefully place them on our tree. Some memories make us laugh, a few bring tears. But thanks to Aunt Julia we still have those wonderful magical snowflakes.
My generation scattered like the wind spreading across the country. It’s been years since we’ve been together. Somehow we’ve managed to all find each other again and fondly reminisce about our Midwest family and past.
An unknown author wrote “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things. But look what happens when they stick together.”
I don’t know if Aunt Julia ever knew the joy those snowflakes have brought into our lives over the years. Maybe someday we’ll get the chance to tell her.
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