I loved my grandmother. Her name was Mabel Clair Bracken Dalton. That's where I got my name, Clair. She died when I was quite young, but I remember how much I loved her.
As a little girl growing up in Illinois, my mother had four little Christmas figurines that spelled N-O-E-L. They had belonged to Grandmother Dalton. Every Christmas I admired and played with those figurines, dancing them and changing their order. I always thought of my grandma when I saw them.
Even after I was married and had children, I still admired and noticed them among my mother's Christmas decorations. One day my mom finally said, "Here, you have them now." I gladly displayed them in the most prominent place where we spend most of our time: in the family room on the fireplace mantel in front of the lighted garland. Everyone could see them there.
About seven years ago, my daughter Lisa and I were changing the music in the CD player, located next to the fireplace mantel. We accidentally flipped the light cord, which bumped the garland, which swept the NOEL figurines off the mantel and sent them crashing onto the brick hearth below. The whole family held its collective breath, watching for my reaction. My heart sank. I could have cried, but I thought, 'What's the use?' I felt so sad. I brushed what looked to be a thousand pieces into a plastic bag. They looked hopeless.
I wrote this story in my journal and titled it, "The Parable of the Figurines." In this instance the precious things were tangible; however, they had tons of sentimental value to me. In a broader context, the precious things could be intangibles, like family and testimony.
For the next five years, as I put up my Christmas decorations, I still got out my plastic bag full of my NOEL figurine pieces and looked at them. After all, they once belonged to Grandma Dalton, whom I dearly loved, and I had played with those figurines all of my life. I just looked at the pieces and remembered how they used to be.
Two years ago, as I unpacked my Christmas decorations, Lisa, then 11 years old, noticed the plastic bag. Early one Saturday morning, Lisa and her friend Jillian Nielson carefully reassembled each little figurine as best they could. The girls wrapped the NOEL figurines in tissue paper and smiled as they gave them to me as an early Christmas present. As I unwrapped their gift of love, I couldn't believe what I saw! I started to cry. Lisa leaned over to Jillian and said, "I told you," as she knew I would cry. I hugged the girls and thanked them for doing something so nice for me.
That afternoon I called Jillian's mom, Dianne, to tell her the whole story, and she cried too, to think our young daughters were showing such kindness and thoughtfulness. She added a moral to this part of the story:
"No matter how broken something is in our life, it can be fixed through the Savior."
Now I display the figurines, still in a prominent place where everyone can see them, but safely on the wide entry table. Some of the pieces are missing and the glue bulges some other pieces, but my little NOEL figurines continue to hold my life's sweet memories and lessons.
Clair Sonnenberg Dickson is a member of the Falcon Park Ward, Sandy Utah Canyon View Stake.