The angels are back.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~  Norman Vincent Peale

Around this time last year, I wrote a post showing a photograph of a snowflake against a cloudless azure sky.  I took this angel photo in the same park this year.  (Click on photo to see angel more clearly.) In fact, the street lamps alternately display angels and snowflakes.  In last year’s post I commented on the incongruity of the snowflake against an amazingly bright Duke-blue sky.  I went from incongruities to oxymorons (aka oxymora) and the race was on.  I’m feeling a bit less playful as I sit down to write today; in fact, I’m downright pensive.  We’ll see where this angel takes me.

angel, a definition:  a typical benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth, especially in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.

Here you see the angel of my childhood.  She certainly looks benevolent and celestial, doesn’t she?  When I was a youngster, and even through my teens, this picture resided on the wall beside my bed.  Living in the mountains meant we had our share of rickety little foot bridges similar to the one in the picture.  I imagined this was my brother trying to make his way across the bridge and the girl was our older sister helping him along, which she would have done with great good nature.  Of course they couldn’t see her, but the guardian angel was there to help them both across.  Sweet story.  Reassuring to a little girl who lived in a less than adequate home with less than competent parents.  (They did love us, though, I’ll give them that.)

Alas, the sweet story went awry.  Not his sisters, not his momma, not even an ethereal being sent from above could save that little boy from himself and his demons.  He died of a drug and alcohol overdose at the age of sixty-one.  Like father, like son.  He spent his entire life wanting and trying to do something, anything better than our dad.  He finally succeeded.  He out-lived him by about a year.

Ahhh, but “hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  (Alexander Pope said that.)  And so we bring out the angels at Christmastime and we burden them with our hopes and wishes.  We charge them with keeping us safe.  We put one on the tiptop of the Christmas tree.  What’s she supposed to do up there anyway?  Guard the tree?  If we’re lucky, we have an image of one in a difficult childhood who helps us through all manner of hard times.  Who/What are these ubiquitous presences?  I have a theory but first I’d love to know what you think.  Care to comment?


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19 thoughts on “The angels are back.

  1. PS. My heart goes out to you Pat. You’ve known a lot of pain in your life, yet you haven’t given up and keep seeing the good and beautiful in it. It takes someone special to do this xx

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  2. When I was a child angels were things you bought (scraps we called them) and you kept them between the pages of books. Somebody once told me, ‘when the student is ready the teacher will come’ and they do. I’ve been fortunate to have had a few angels in my life – they come in many forms, but usually without the ethereal glow and wings. I have one particular angel friend who has the ability to empathise and swear at the same time. So yep, I think angels come in many forms, but they are there, so happy hunting – I bet you find one!

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    • I love the little cultural lessons I get from you, Jacqueline. “Scraps.” I’ve never heard that before. Are they pictures of angels? I love the idea of putting them in books since I’m “crazy” for books.

      I too have some angel friends who can soothe and swear at the same time. Matter of fact, I can be one of those on occasion. 🙂

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  3. I agree with Suzy – the angels are here on earth. They are in the persona least expected and the least expected places.The Bible says (Paraphrased) be careful when you entertain strangers for they might be angels. This verse calmed my over-agressive husband’s wild and crazy driving habits; when other drives did smething to annoy him, he would say “That’s all right, s/he might be an angel.”And who can deny that our loveable grandchildren are those most celestial beings?

    (I’d forgotten that we both had memories of that exact same picture. Mine was in Grandma’s bedroom. When I’d get scared or have a bad dream when spending the night there, she would let me crawl in bed with her. I think she knew it was not just her, but the picture too, that calmed me.)

    What a wonderful world we’d have if we treated everyone as if they might be an angel! As far as the treetop angel, I think she is there to bless and protect everyone who views the tree, and to guard the presents from sneaky children before Christmas day!

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    • “angels unawares” I know the verse.

      It is a wonderfully soothing picture. Daughter #1 gave me a framed copy several years ago because the one from Mom’s house was destroyed in a fire.

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  4. i think the real angels are here. on earth. i know four of them well. i think the symbols, used here on earth, are to remind us that we are NOT in control of everything and that if we have faith in ourselves, and our God, all will work out the way it needs to. the problems lie in our universal disease of thinking others need to fix our problems. angles whisper in our ears…”you can do it, sweetie.” I LOVE ANGELS. (wait til you see my xmas card this year:)

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    • 🙂 I had an angel for years. When I had my first tree in this house, I decided to switch to a star. I’m not sure why except that D had always put the angel on top and she was a little difficult to place. I guess the thought of it overwhelmed and now I’m a star person. It’s a beautiful star.

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