Cut from posterboard, covered with silver glitter bought from a dime store, the same five-pointed star has topped my Christmas trees for years and years.
I can still remember as a teenager, sitting for hours at our kitchen table and cutting out dozens just like it. Lucky me—I’d volunteered to help make table decorations for our high school prom. For the evening’s theme, we’d chosen “Starry, Starry Night.” Against my parents’ druthers, I went with the boy I liked a bunch. After the dance that night, I snitched a star from the candlelit arrangement at our table and stuck it in my evening bag. Later, I tucked the memento away in a drawer.
Then, I promptly forgot about it. The boyfriend fizzled as well.
Everything changed in 1981 when, as newlyweds, my husband and I picked out our first Christmas tree. It was a small, green, artificial one purchased from the same dime store. Among its rigid branches, we hung glass balls and strung colored lights. When it came time for a tree topper, I remembered my star, which I found after a quick search through my bureau. Will this work? I asked, holding it out for his inspection. Secretly, I hoped he wouldn’t notice my star’s sloppy shape, not to mention three sliced-off points and a downright ugly wire attached to its backside.
Heck, what was I thinking? My so-called star ranked right up there with refrigerator art and kindergarten masterpieces.
But in spite of its flaws, my husband nodded his approval.
For the 20 years we were married, that star faithfully crowned every tree we decorated as a couple and, in subsequent years, as a family. Here’s the star! the kids would exclaim as soon as they found it in the box of ornaments. They, too, knew Mom’s star just naturally claimed the highest point of honor on our tree.
After the marriage ended, my daughter and I moved into a home of our own. For our first Christmas, we bought a white artificial tree from the local dollar store. Among its sparse branches, we hung glass balls and strung white lights. From a plastic bag of Christmas decorations my ex-husband sent, I was surprised and happy to find my star. Somehow, the holidays in this new place felt more complete with it attached to the top of our straggly tree.
Four years later, I fell madly in love with a man I unexpectedly met at the grocery store where I’d been shopping for years. We married five months later. When Christmas arrived, the three of us put up the huge, pink artificial tree that friends had given to my daughter and me. Among its thick branches—prelit with white lights—we hung glass balls and strung colored beads.
As I’d done for so many years, I found my star stashed away carefully in a box of holiday trinkets. It had aged. (Good grief, hadn’t we all?) Years of use had worn off a bit of glitter here and there. But amazingly, it still held its sloppy shape quite nicely.
Smiling, I climbed up a stepladder, then fastened the star to our tree’s lofty top branch. For a few moments more, I stood there and marveled at my star’s stubborn will to survive. I also realized how that simple, homemade decoration had come full circle through the years. How it miraculously connects me to James, the man whom I love so deeply.
You see, he and I both danced and laughed at that very same prom, though not together. He hung out with his senior-class gang; I was just a junior. So we never talked that night. We probably didn’t even exchange glances.
Several months after we married, I thumbed through an old high school yearbook out of curiosity and found two black-and-white prom photos on facing pages. Isn’t that you? I asked my husband, pointing to a long-haired boy wearing a black tuxedo. Yes, he nodded. The other pictured me at a table, seated next to a star-studded table decoration and leaning toward my date, both of us deep in conversation.
Goodness, who’d have ever guessed on that “Starry, Starry Night” so long ago that James and I would meet again some 30 years later and fall in love? That we’d find a kind of happiness and peace that could only be described as heavenly? More than a year into our marriage, we’re still rather amazed ourselves.
And you know what? As corny as it sounds, I think our love was written not only in the stars but also on one: a little five-pointed star, hand-cut from posterboard and covered with silver glitter.
Sheryl Smith-Rodgers writes frequently for Texas Co-op Power. She wrote about life as a single woman in the February 2006 edition.