I found the little box when we were unpacking our holiday decorations today. It had “Angel Chimes” printed on it in my mother’s hand, and I carefully lifted the lid. There they were – little soot-blackened flat metal angels and some bits and pieces like a puzzle. I lifted the shapes out of the box and tried to remember how they went together.
My youngest daughter glanced over and asked in a puzzled voice, “What’s all that?” I continued to fit the parts together, everything except hanging the angels, and didn’t say anything. She leaned closer and watched me, drawing the interest of my middle daughter. I handed an angel to each and said, “Your grandma and grandpa got this out every year. And every year they let us kids hang the angels. This year, you get to do it.”
They looked at the structure and the middle one determined which direction the angels should face. She hung hers reverentially, letting her little sister hang the other two as I got the candles ready to light. I put the standing angel on top, and we lit the candles, waiting, hardly breathing.
“It might take a little while,” I whispered. In a moment, the fan quivered a tiny bit, and the angels slowly flew through the air, picking up speed as the air above the candles heated and rose. When they were moving fast enough, the tiny strikers began to hit the bells, and the exact sound my parents and I had heard every holiday season filled my family room.
“Ting….ting….ting…ting…ting..ting..ting, ting, tingtingting….”
Decembers past, all the times I had shared this with my mother and father, sitting here now with two of my daughters – all blended together in my mind and I could almost feel my absent parents sharing the joyous sound with my children.
Memory making is a continuous, dynamic thing. And memories can bridge lifetimes. Somehow, I had forgotten and put aside the box without thinking about it. Somehow, it had gotten into our boxes of decorations and been overlooked for years. Until tonight, when I needed it.