- An accessory, article, or detail used to beautify the appearance of something to which it is added, or of which it is a part;
- A fashioned ornament for personal adornment
- A precious possession
- A person or thing that is treasured, esteemed, or indispensable
For the majority of my childhood and early adult years – until she passed away a few years ago – my sweet grandmother would give each of her grandchildren a Christmas ornament every single year as a gift. She would write our name and the year somewhere on the ornament so that we knew when it was given to us (and probably so it wouldn’t get confused with the other siblings’ ornaments). Sometimes these ornaments were similar in style or theme, but mostly the ornaments were all very different. Each year at Christmas time, us children would gather our own ornaments from the Christmas box and decorate the tree. This process led to our Christmas tree being completely non-uniform and definitely not color or style coordinated. Between the 8 children (and the many years of life) there were nutcrackers, trumpets, stuffed bears, snow globes, trains, stars, and just about every other thing you could think of all adorning the Christmas tree at the same time. To an uninformed mind, this could have looked a bit cluttered or even lazy – yet now, after many years, I am beginning to understand what it really meant.
I imagine my grandmother spending a significant part of her year, during every shopping trip, thinking about and wondering what type or style of ornament she could get for me. Then I imagine her spending that same amount of time thinking about each of her grandchildren, and the hope that she had that someday they would appreciate and love the gifts that she gave. Writing our individual names on the ornaments, wrapping them one by one with care, and then making the trip to our home where she would present us with the gifts that we each knew was coming. Oh how I wish she could do it again – I would appreciate it much more now.
I like to think that grandma remembers each of these ornaments, every single one, and finds great joy, even now, knowing that each year, her grandchildren pull them out of the Christmas box, see their name written in her unmistakable cursive, and remember her. We remember her love, we remember her life, and we miss her. Then we place them on our own Christmas trees in order to “beautify the appearance of [the tree] to which it is added.” Once the ornaments are placed on the tree, they naturally become a part of the tree, and we all know instinctively that the tree and the ornament belong together, because a tree without ornaments just isn’t a Christmas tree.
The thought of putting on jewels is similar – especially as it relates to a bride. Think of the intense process that a bride goes through on her wedding day to prepare and adorn herself to make sure that everything is perfect, that her beauty is maximized, and that everyone involved will remember the day and the memories. The planning, the preparation, the invitations, the anxiety, and the precious jewels used to highlight and amplify the beauty of the bride. Those jewels become a part of the bride and a part of the celebration and a part of the memories.
In life, we tend to get a bit down on ourselves, especially when we’ve made mistakes or fall short of the perfection we are trying for. One failure can turn into two or three failures, and suddenly there is a bit of a momentous slide and we find ourselves in despair or wondering to ourselves if the Lord even notices, cares, or wants us at all. But, the good news is that he does, and he doesn’t just want us – he needs us – because we ‘beautify’ him.
“Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride.”1
He is like the Christmas tree and we are the ornaments that he uses “to beautify” his appearance. We are what he permanently ‘binds’ to himself as decoration. And just like in our house growing up, he doesn’t want any ornaments left in the box – he wants to put them all2 on the tree. No matter how many, no matter how different, and no matter what style or shape, he wants to “clothe [himself] with them all.” And just like my grandmother, I know that the savior remembers each ornament, when he engraved3 their name, and he finds absolute joy in the process of putting that ornament on his tree.
But, this is not just for Christmas time – this is for all the times. And just in case you thought I was kidding about how much the Lord loves us – lets appeal to Isaiah (who is never wrong): “my soul shall be joyful in by God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robes of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”4
1 1 Ne. 21:18
2 As an interesting side note, reflect on how much our children love the process of decorating the tree. How is their love and attitude towards the tree different than ours. We may want it to look something like Lord Business wanted his Lego world to look, and our kids are more like the master builders who are creative and inclusive. We can learn much wisdom from them.
3 Alma 5:19
4 Isa. 61:10