Every Christmas, when my children still lived at home, I bought a special ornament for each of my children. I tried to make the ornaments have meaning, whether it was a nod to something they enjoyed or a remembrance of a special time in their life from the year. When they moved out, they had a box of at least eighteen ornaments to take with them. While they are a practical way for my children to have a fully decorated tree when the money might not be there to purchase Christmas ornaments, I hope they are also a gateway to pleasant memories from their childhood.
Memories have power. They can paralyze us with fear, convince us to act differently than we otherwise might, and strengthen our grudges. But they don’t have to result in negative behaviors.
Remembering good ones can lift your spirits and bring hope for the future. An honest look at more difficult memories can help us see patterns in our lives we need to correct. Looking at them objectively can give us a new perspective on the events of the past and lead to freedom from the pains that try to bind us. God can use memories, even the hard ones, to bring us to forgiveness and healing.
Felicia Morgan, the main character in Eva Marie Everson’s The Ornament Keeper, doesn’t want to relive the past. As Christmas nears, her husband had moved out and celebrating the holidays isn’t an appealing option. Her children, however, have other ideas. Felicia finds herself decorating the tree with ornaments her husband has given her through the years.
Each ornament has a story, and the reader gets to relive those stories alongside Felicia. Switching between her past and present, we see the joys she’s forgotten. We stand beside her as she wanders through memories of the failures and trials still haunting her in the present. We begin to understand, along with her, how each vignette of her past has shaped how she sees herself, her husband, and her family.
And it’s these visions of Christmas past that lead Felicia through the lies she’s believed and to a place where healing can begin if only she will allow truth to change her heart.
The Ornament Keeper is far from a feel-good, light-hearted Christmas story. But it is a beautiful story of regret and remembrance that leads to the possibility of hope and healing. It’s a story that reminds us how powerful forgiveness can be in our lives, and that’s a truth we can all use more of at Christmas and throughout the years.
I give The Ornament Keeper four Christmas angels. Come back to see if it gets Five Angels and my choice for best Christmas story of the year. I’ll announce my top book a little closer to Christmas.