The story of the heartbeat ornament

November brings with it cooler weather, leaves of gold and the feeling of thanks in the air. It’s the perfect time to begin a practice of gratitude. You Know Neen is hosting the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Gratitude blog series, a place where the experience of gratitude will be explored and shared. I, along with several other contributors will be sharing our thoughts on all things gratitude. 

fullsizerenderAs newlyweds, our Christmas tree looked like it came right out of a Crate and Barrel catalogue. Complimentary colored ornaments, garland (very little,) bows and ribbon streaming artistically down the sides brightened up our fresh tree those first few Christmases.

When friends gave us ornaments that read “Neen and Hubs first Christmas” that weren’t really part of our color scheme, they discreetly were hung on the back of the tree so the “right” colored and shaped ornaments could hang proudly in the front.

Fast forward 19 years and you’ll see not a Crate and Barrel tree, but a mismatched tree of many colors and shapes and sizes. It looks like blue snowmen and red reindeer and my kid’s artwork in multi-color popsicle sticks had a convention and gathered here on my tree. There are glued angel wings and knitted dreamcatchers in red and green and snowmen made from Styrofoam.

And then there is the heartbeat ornament. It is red and white and blue and green. It is handmade. It is my favorite ornament, like ever. It makes me swoon, it makes me cry and it makes me remember why I married my husband, why I am such a lucky, lucky girl and why I am so blessed to live my life.

The year was 1998. On November 8th, Hubs and I found out I was pregnant with our first child. We were beyond happy, crazy in love and filled with so much hope and joy and gratitude. We did all the things: told our family, got the baby books, planned and made my doctor appointments. We had a scare early on, as the baby’s heartbeat wasn’t heard at our first appointment. We were crushed, but told to come back the following week as sometimes it was too soon to hear anything.

We solemnly agreed and held our heads as high as we could. It wasn’t an easy two weeks. We went to our second appointment and cried and laughed as we heard the loud and swishing heartbeat of our baby. OUR baby!

No sound was as sweet, no moment as precious, no baby more wanted… Our little Heartbeat.

And so it was on Christmas morning, only a minute pregnant that I opened a present from Hubs. Inside was an ornament. One he crafted himself: he found a lovely, modern, red wooden heart ornament and a traditional colorful glass drum ornament and fused them together to create our Heartbeat.

It made me swoon, it made me smile.

And today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, like we have done every year since I’ve had my heartbeat ornament, we pulled out our decorations and trimmed our tree. The heartbeat is the first ornament that is hung and it is the one I sit back and look at as I drink my wine once we’ve finished with all the decorations. I do this every year.

And this year, as I looked at my heartbeat ornament, I cried tears of longing for the past and tears of joy for the present and tears of anticipation of our future. Maybe this year, the tears are so strong because my Heartbeat, my firstborn, my daughter is leaving our nest next fall. I sat with my eyes on my colorful and non-Crate and Barrel, non Pinterest tree and smiled and cried and was ever so grateful.

So happy to have a life filled with joy and color and mismatched everything. So delighted to live a full and messy life with a full and messy family. So grateful for the beating of all the hearts that live in our home.

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