Friday, January 6, 2017

A Special Feast Day: Epiphany and The Three Kings

Today, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known in many countries as Three Kings Day.

Growing up, my family celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany as the official last day of the Christmas season. January sixth was the day we took down our scrawny Christmas tree, removed the silver tinsel, swept up the pine needles, rolled up the daisy-chain garland, wrapped the dime-store ornaments and
bubble lights in toilet paper, and stored everything in a few shoe boxes.

Oh, my, how times have changed!

This year I began removing ornaments a few days ago. It's been a slow process. We have so many ornaments and decorations. The most cherished are those hand painted by my children and grandchildren. Other special ornaments were given to me by my family and friends over the years -- several from the White House collection, some with an Irish theme, others with sayings about sisters and friends, many from our family's annual Thanksgiving Day ornament exchange and from my Bunco friends at our Christmas party ornament exchange. 

Each ornament tells a story and brings back a memory.

There's one ornament that tells a story I wrote about in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. The story was called "Unexpected Joy."

The ornament featured in the story was given to my family on the Feast of the Epiphany a few years ago.

But the story didn't start there.

It started on the first Sunday of Advent when our doorbell rang one night and I found a wrapped package on the front porch. Inside was a gingerbread house, which my grandkids and I decorated.

The next Sunday another gift arrived, then another for each Sunday in Advent. I called family and neighbors to find out who left the gifts. No one knew and no one confessed. I expected someone to reveal themselves on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but it wasn't until the Feast of the Epiphany that a family from our parish knocked on our door and handed us another gift.

It was a burgundy colored velvet box.

Inside was a hand-painted "Li Bien" ornament. A small circle inside the box explained the meaning of "Li Bien" which comes from the Chinese meaning "inside."

The Li Bien ornament showcases the age old skill of inside painting, which originated in the Qing Dynasty. The ornament was hand-painted through a tiny opening in the mouth-blown glass. Each image is painted in reverse.

The ornament inside was of the Nativity scene, complete with the Holy Family and the Three Kings.

So, on this Feast of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, I fondly remember the year a family treated us to these special gifts, and the act of kindness and generosity they shared with us.





18 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful ornament and a beautiful story!

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  2. This post made me smile so many times: the tinsel, the childrens' special ornaments, some of mine are 40 years old, and the hand painted one like yours that I recvieved from a student, not to mention my writer's group. Lovely post!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Times were simpler back then.

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  3. What a sweet story. Thanks for sharing it, Donna. It's proof there ARE Christmas miracles in contemporary times.

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    1. Hi Sioux,
      I'm glad you enjoyed it. And you're right about Christmas miracles.

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  4. What a delightful story. The ornament is beautiful. We have a lot of sentimental ornaments of the handmade variety and ornaments we've picked up in our travels. But none comes with a story quite as lovely as yours.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. For me, special ornaments like the one I mentioned are more than decorations, they are shiny memories to be cherished and shared.

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  5. Such a beautiful story of the ornament, Donna. I also loved your description of taking down your childhood tree, so much like my own memories--Thank you. Like you, I remove Christmas trimmings a little at a time, and leave the tree up until the daylight hours are longer.

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    1. Hi Clara,
      I'm glad you enjoyed the description of my childhood memories. I thought I had taken everything down, but found a few more decorations that I need to take down and store for next year.
      Hope your new year is fabulous!

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  6. Hi Donna! What a great story of how you got your precious ornament! Our parish did something similar for a few years, but it was for Lent. We'd all pick a name and then it was up to us to decide what to give that family, and how often. I think it really helped create community.

    We're busy taking down the Christmas season here at my house today. It always makes me a little wistful...I love the sparkles and lights. Well, I guess having it for such a small amount of time makes it that much more special.
    It was fun to meet you at Karen's. I look forward to reading more here!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Thanks, Celi. I like the idea of adopting a family during lent.
      I enjoyed reading your post on Karen's blog and will visit your blog now that I know about it.
      Best!

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  7. What a wonderful story, Donna! So many traditions and memories are wrapped up in the Advent season, aren't they? Glad you shared this one with us. Thanks for stopping by to meet Ceil on my blog today. New Year blessings to you too! :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I always enjoy visiting your blog. I'm hoping to blog more and visit more blogs this year.

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  8. I love this story. How touching! The ornaments we have on our tree tell a story...they remind us of Christmases past. That's much more powerful than the "designer trees" that have become popular in recent years.

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    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for your kind comment. I agree with you that trees with special ornaments are more powerful than designer trees.

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  9. What a sweet story! You made the details so vivid, I felt as though I were there with you and your family.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    1. Hi Pat,
      Thanks. It is a special ornament and was a lovely surprise.

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