The Hopes and Fears of All the Years


No two bulbs are ever alike and there is no way of predicting what the empty bulb for next year will say.

The year was 1988. It was the start of a new family. There were only five months left until Christmas to set in history the markings that would forever be on our Christmas tree. Our first bulb was gold. We wrote on it where we went to college. Where we worked. Where we lived. Where we honeymooned. And of course the biggest event of the year — our wedding. There were a lot of blank spaces on such a big bulb–so many hope and dreams.

Each year, when we pull out the ornaments to decorate the tree, we read the bulbs…sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. It takes a long time to read 27 bulbs and I never read them in order. The life events are as mixed up as my memories.  Births, deaths, job changes, residence changes, graduations, surgeries, trips, etc. The bulbs are a tangled mess of joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat… and they reveal what events shape the story of our life.

  • Started TekTrek.
  • Tornado.
  • Sarah born.
  • Grant to Norway.
  • Paul died.
  • Built house.
  • Trip to Greece.
  • Clay graduates.
  • and so on…

The lines sound so matter of fact. So simple. But simple: never. As if anything in our lives could ever really be reduced to a sentence fragment. But the fragments are enough for me to handle all in one night. I hold the rest of the stories in my heart, as I find the perfect spot for each year on the tree.

Each little bulb, round like the world. Each little world representing one trip around the sun. Each moment in time lit by a the light of the tree, illuminating its voice. “….The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight.”


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