What Matters Most Is the Glue That Holds Us All Together

A special message this holiday season, wherever you may be

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by Colleen Steele |

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like the day after Christmas.

Hopefully, that feeling is joy, but if it isn’t, what’s bothering you? Were symptoms of pulmonary hypertension making you too ill to go anywhere or do anything? Did the holiday not go according to plan?

Maybe money was tight, or you weren’t well enough to shop for Christmas gifts, leaving little to nothing under the tree; or was it a loved one you were missing more than things?

Are you an exhausted caregiver recovering from the physical and emotional support you provided while attempting to make the holiday season perfect?

Were traditions broken, and maybe a few precious ornaments, too?

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Meaningful mosaics

We celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. last month. In honor of the holiday, I colored a mosaic of a butterfly and wrote a column about how it helped me express what I am most thankful for and why.

It was fortuitous that a few weeks later, I happened upon a TikTok video by the creator Terence Sullivan. In it, he tells a touching story about a grandmother’s unique Christmas mosaic and her hope of rekindling joy among life’s broken pieces.

I’m not sure if Terence is the author of the story. I attempted to contact him, but he did not reply. Whether it is his or not, he does a beautiful job telling it and performs an uncanny impersonation of actor Ryan Reynolds, tearing up as he listens to the story.

Broken ornaments

The story begins with a grandmother who, much to her daughter Kim’s dismay, gifts her granddaughter a fragile Christmas ornament every year.

The first one she received was a green turtle made of blown glass. As the little girl placed the ornament on a low-hanging branch, Kim questioned the grandmother why she would give a gift this precious to a child.

“She will absolutely break it,” argued Kim, but her frustration grew when the grandmother responded, “Just let it break. We can put it back together.”

Several Christmases later, Kim came up with a solution. She created a “look but don’t touch tree” to display Nanny’s precious ornaments. Sadly, nobody really looked at the special tree out of fear of breaking an ornament.

Terence solemnly lowers his voice and continues with the story, “First Christmas Nanny is no longer with them, Kim is putting the tree together separate from the family tree in the other room.”

This was her private moment with Nanny’s tree. As she delicately placed an ornament, her now adult daughter called to her. When Kim turned in response, she knocked an ornament off the tree, breaking it.

Inconsolable, Kim sweeps the pieces into a dustpan and discovers a little ribbon with a note in her mother’s handwriting tucked inside the broken ornament.

It read, “Kim, this was from your first ballet recital. You wore pink tights with purple hearts and never looked happier. Love Mom.”

It dawns on Kim that every fragile and previously broken ornament was her mother’s way of teaching some kind of lesson.

Kim breaks more ornaments, and inside each, she finds another childhood memory. Her daughter rushes in, concerned that her mother has gone completely insane.

“This was all junk,” Kim exclaimed. “It’s what’s inside that matters!”

Kim smashes another ornament. In it is a wad of tissue containing a little turtle that had been glued back together many years ago, with a note that read, “Kim, it’s gonna break and how beautiful it can be when we put it back together.”

That Christmas, the mother and daughter glued and taped Nanny’s ornaments back together. They hung them all on the family tree, even though they all looked a mess.

“Beautiful mosaic ornaments that meant something,” Terence concluded.

An orange tabby cat lies on a holiday table cloth with a Christmas next to a Christmas ornament

If Colleen’s cat Millie looks guilty, it’s because when it comes to breaking ornaments, he usually is. (Photo by Colleen Steele)

Reflect on what matters most to you

Gathered within your memory of shattered holiday plans are special moments you are forgetting.

Did you watch a Christmas classic or listen to a Christmas song that brought you back to happy holidays as a child? Did you receive Christmas cards or phone calls confirming that people still care and think about you? Did you do something that might not be an old tradition but has the promise of becoming a new one?

If you see more broken ornaments than gifts under your tree, think about what you have that is more valuable than any, such as family, friends, and precious memories of deceased loved ones.

Maybe you couldn’t attend Mass but spent time in private prayer, remembering the reason for the season.

Find the glue that helps mend your heart, mind, and soul.

A cracked Christmas ornament hangs on a tree.

The Steele Family Christmas ornament for 2022 is cracked but still precious. (Photo by Colleen Steele)

Cracked but still precious

In a previous column, I shared that my sons Cullen and Aidan wouldn’t be home for Christmas this year. It put a crack in my holiday cheer, but like my broken remembrance ornament for 2022, I found the glue to fix it. Tucked within the imperfect yet beautiful ornament is a folded note to my sons, reminding them it’s what’s inside that matters.

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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