Black and White Photograph, c. 1949
by Wilda Morris

In the picture of Dorinda and me in front
of the Christmas tree my hair
is in those French braids I hated but wore
because Mother loved to fix my hair that way–
one of my small gifts to her.

Only two glass balls are visible–
almost everything hung on the tree
was homemade. I wish I could thank
Mother and my grandparents for modeling
and encouraging creativity.

In the picture, I can barely make out
the two crepe paper owls on a twig, owls
Aunt Ersel made for my grandparents.
I wonder if those owls have survived,
if they will show up on someone’s tree this year.

To the right of the owls hang two little gold bells.
They ring silently, symbol of the joy
brought into our lives by the gift of music,
especially when grandfather sang
his song about the little mouse.

If you saw a tree like this today, you would probably
think it a Charlie Brown Christmas tree
but back then we thought it beautiful.
It does have a Charlie Brown heart–
sitting there in a room full of love and faith.

There are no presents beneath the Christmas tree
except the great gift of sisterhood. I was blessed
with a sister who made tracks for me to follow,
who lifted me when I fell, who sent me off
on my own way with hugs and prayers, a sister
who still loves and inspires me all these years later.


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