The other night WC asked when we would put the fairy on top of the tree. Jay and I stared at him inquisitively for a beat then at each other before I asked him what he was talking about.
“You know, the lady with wings that goes on top of the tree.”
“That’s an angel.” Jay and I say in unison.
WC sees that we are annoyed by this and smiles. And he begins to protest that it is a fairy that goes on top of the tree. I tell him that it was not a group of fairy’s that announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. There’s a bad joke in there, somewhere. Of course with me annoyed at him, he keeps on because he thinks it’s funny and not likely to get him into trouble. I drop the topic and over the next few days make little jokes by referring to the fairy.
I imagine that most of our depictions of angels look nothing like the real thing. In the bible, when people encounter them, it is not described as pleasant- these people are terrified. They seem more like God’s night club bouncers than the ethereal images in our paintings and figurines. It got me thinking about our modest little angel on top of the tree. I bought her the first Christmas Jay and I had at our first apartment. In our barely 500 square feet of living space, we had to place the 4 ft tree on top of table because there wasn’t any floor space nor was there a way to rearrange it. We had little money and the angel was cheap and one of her wings is a little messed up. Over the next few years we’ve slowly moved our way up and down in world several times, bought a house and full size trees both real and artificial. Tree decorations have come and gone. The kids have made new ornaments and we’ve retired some that we never really liked anyway. The little angel has been our constant every Christmas. Jay has lifted up WC to put her on top of the tree since he was two. She is plain and slightly tattered, a reminder of where we’ve been. Even though my pathetic looking, little tree top angel may resemble a fairy more than a warrior of God, she reminds me that Jesus, himself, was born in a place where animals were kept. And this little angel will stay on top of our trees until she falls completely apart.