Are we human because we gaze at the stars or do we gaze at the stars because we are human – and more importantly – do they gaze back?

Author Unknow

Decorating my tree is always an emotional experience for me. Most of my ornaments are infused with meaning and I become flooded with memories. Here is the wooden reindeer with a broken antler that I crafted as a child fifty years ago. There is a baby moccasin that my beloved grandfather brought from Alaska for my firstborn forty years ago. I turned it into an ornament when its mate went missing. My cherished friend gave me the iridescent shells twenty-five years ago in anticipation of the clam bake engagement party that ended up being her memorial service. The ceramic hobby horse that signifies my first adult Christmas was a gift from the welcome wagon when I moved into my first house. Of course, there are the felt ornaments that represent my precious pets over the years. I even manage to find meaning in a few shiny baubles I picked up last minute when my kids were little and I could barely pull off the holidays. This year, the trio of craft angels from my beautiful aunt takes on new meaning as they reflect her sunny disposition back to me. This is our first Christmas without her.

It is said that ancient pagans placed ornaments representing stars in the evergreen trees on the winter solstice to honor the ancestors – their divine celestial guardians in the night sky. I wanted to acknowledge this ancient ritual and whispered a Loving Kindness + Rule of Three wish with each meaningful ornament I hung. Loving Kindness Meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition. It is said to cultivate the four qualities of love: friendship, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. In it, we meditate with a series of compassionate statements that we radiate outward to others and inward to ourselves. The Rule of Three tells us that the energy we put into the world will return to us threefold.

With the felt depictions of my precious pets: I wish you the joy you brought times three.

With the baby moccasin to my beloved grandfather: I wish you the love you shared times three.

With the iridescent shells to my cherished friends: I wish you the peace you sought times three.

With the craft angels to my beloved aunt: I wish you the happiness you gave times three.

And with the shiny baubles to my younger self: I wish you the grace you desired times three.