I will always have bells on my Christmas tree. They are a reliable early-warning system for cat-related tree disasters.
But that's not why I do it.
In my heart, bells mean Christmas. You've got the Carol of the Bells, Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, bells everywhere. There are so many Christmas songs about bells because bells are joy. Joy because you made it through another year. Joy because of the family around you. Joy on little kids' faces as they open their presents, and joy on their parents' faces as they watch with love.
I love the beginning of How the Grinch Stole Christmas when every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, are decorating the town for Christmas. There's a Who delightedly pulling on a rope and ringing a row of bells, ringing out joy over Whoville. Despite the efforts of the Grinch, Christmas came. It came all the same.
I love the end of It's a Wonderful Life, when George stands with his family in front of everyone who loves him, everyone whose life he has touched in ways he never realized. A little bell rings on the Christmas tree, giving old Clarence his wings at last. To be surrounded by love, to be the richest man in town and realize that you mean so much to so many - that is joy.
Bells feel like old-timey Christmas, like Scrooge running out into the street in his slippers after his night with the spirits, and hearing the church bells ringing out the joy of Christmas morning. Promise. Hope. Joy.
I can't hear something like this and not find tears in my eyes. Is it just me?
And now, to help you recover from an emotional moment, please enjoy what is, as yet, my favorite rendition of Carol of the Bells.