My sister had just gotten out of a drug and alcohol rehab. I had offered her a place to stay after she graduated the program and she accepted. I was so proud of her. She had made such a mess out of her life, but had managed to get herself clean and sober.
I spent several weekends painting, cleaning, and making the 'room' special for her. It wasn't much really, but it was hers and contrary to the rehab--she had a door and didn't have to share it (except when we needed to access the laundry area).
My sister has always been hard working, and high strung. She didn't have a car, and back then I lived out in the boonies. So, she would commute with me to my job in a mall. She found a job working at a food service place, and moved up quickly. The owner took a liking to her, and saw she had potential. In short order, she saved up enough money to buy a car. But, before she did the holidays were upon us. We all were tight on cash, but she hadn't seen many people in our family for several years and she seemed to want to make a good impression.
But, being prideful, she wanted to buy her own gifts for the family. We shopped around, and nothing seemed to fit the budget. So, she decided to make her gifts. She decided to make dream catchers for everyone. Neither then nor now would I call myself a fan of dream catchers. But, my sister made one for each member of our family, printed out a special message in each, and wrapped them up. She once again had carved her own path.
This was and still is the most treasured gift I ever received. The sacrifice, the heartfelt sincerity, the genuine love and purity behind the dream catcher makes it irreplaceable. I still have it hanging in my bedroom window-12 years later.
Each time my sister is struggling, each time she is contemplating a bad decision, each time I want to tell her how much I respect and admire her--I can show her the dream catcher and know that we share the same feelings and memories.
The dream catcher symbolizes, for me, what the holidays are meant to feel like.
A few months later, my sis saved up enough money to buy a car. And shortly thereafter moved out. We still talk at least once a week, and I will always love her unconditionally regardless of her decisions.