That Tacky Star

It's been nearly thirty years running that we have topped our Christmas tree with a hand-made aluminum foil star. It has seen better days.

It was hand made by me our first Christmas in our own cabin in Alaska. Our old star had suddenly become obsolete. The design was so inadequate that it required electricity to light up … and we did not have electricity. We did not have indoor plumbing either. For that matter, we didn't have much. We would have been considered poor by any standards, but we were so, so far from poverty.

While it is true we had very little of this world's “goods,” we had enough to eat and firewood for the stove, and we had our loving little family. Doesn't that just sound cliché?

Sorry, schmaltz may sell, but I don't do it. The real story is we had all of the above, and a huge sense of adventure. Actually I had a huge sense of adventure. And it was following that dream of adventure that led us to that point.

I had been “going to Alaska” since second grade. In my defense, I promised my wife adventure when she signed up to marry me. She probably got a lot more than she bargained for.

So there, in our tiny cabin that would have never made it into a Norman Rockwell painting, I cut out a star from the cardboard backer in a spiral notebook and wrapped it with aluminum foil. It was simple and crude, but it worked, and the foil reflected the lamplight very nicely. We were poor in money, but fabulously rich in imagination, and we were surrounded by adventure. It was not a vacation, it was real life.

In our real life, it seemed that there was always something going wrong and we would have to overcome the circumstances, sometimes at way below zero temperature. But we did overcome and years later we relish those experiences of long past.

Which brings us back to the tacky star. It is symbolic of so much more than I can share here. It is a small token of our life of adventure in Alaska. It is a testimony that being broke could not stop us from celebrating the birth of Christ. In fact, it may have helped. It is a reminder of times when we had so little, which in turn, reminds us to appreciate what we have now. And it faithfully sits on top of the tree, reflecting the lights around it.

It is sufficient, and we are pleased with sufficient.