The Anderson Christmas angel was simple. She was not a store-bought porcelain doll.

Her simple starched lace dress held the round head made of wood. Her hair, eyes and slight smile were painted on. Her halo and arms were shiny gold pipe cleaners. Her wings were of gold tin foil. The trumpet she played joyously was a painted golf tee.

She was a simple angel to many, but to the six kids in the Anderson house, she was our special Christmas angel. She symbolized that Christmas had arrived at our home, and decorating the tree wasn’t finished until Dad rested our precious Christmas angel at the top.

I remember one Christmas when I was older and living away from my family for the first time. I had to work late on Christmas Eve, and I decided to drive home after work that night so I could be with everyone Christmas morning. I would miss our Christmas eve celebration, but at least I’ll be there to open presents. Everyone else was already home and knew I would be arriving after all had gone to bed. I was told “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

After my shift ended, I climbed into my packed car and headed off for home. There were not many vehicles on the roads after midnight on Christmas Eve. The fields of snow reflected the white light of the moon and it seemed to sparkle like the stars in the night sky. While all of Maine was asleep and dreaming, I was on the road, alone. To keep myself from dozing off, I turn up the Christmas carols on the radio and start to sing along.

All is silent as I turn onto our street. The homes in the neighborhood have left their outside Christmas lights on (as if knowing one of their own was coming home). As I crest the hill, I am struck with awe by a sight that has stayed in my memory for years.

Shining like a beacon in the fog, my home was flooded with light. Chinese lanterns are lining the street and driveway. Candles are in each window and one large evergreen wreath with a big red bow is on the front door.

I pulled into the driveway, shut off my car and smiled. The street and driveway looked like an airstrip guiding this flier home. The house seems to be waiting for me, the last of the six to make it home.

I tear up and grin as I grab my bag and unlock the door. I cross the threshold into the house and there is Dad, all by himself. No one else. He is in his pajamas, bathrobe and slippers waiting for me with a broad smile and a hug. Behind him, the woodstove’s fire was lit and the room was filled with light.

The Christmas tree is glowing from multiple colors of white, red, green, yellow and blue. And at the top of the tree, is our much loved, yet slightly worn angel playing her golf tee trumpet as if in celebration. Dad whispers to me as if it’s a secret, “Merry Christmas!”

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.centralmaine.com/meetinghouse

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