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January 9, 2011 / MrsH

Taking Down the Tree

For the past week, our neighborhood has become strewn with trees.  This upcoming week is the big tree pick-up, so we are all readying ourselves for that.  Buddy has been noticing this with the sadness that only an almost-five year old can express.  It was a tough moment when he realized that our tree, too, would meet its fate in the trash truck.  “It will be Christmas again next year, Buddy.  We’ll have a tree again and bring out all of these wonderful decorations again.” “The lights, too?”  “Yes, the lights too, and the stockings, the ornaments, everything.”

Many years, I, too, feel sad when Christmas time is over and dread the job of taking down the tree.  We leave it up until Epiphany and are one of the last in our area to take it down.  It’s not just laziness, but there is often something sad about saying goodbye to the festive season, with nothing really to replace it.  Just a large, gaping hole in my living room, which used to be filled with twinkling lights, aromatic pine, and memories of love all over that tree.

This year was different.  As we took down the tree I felt a sense almost of relief.  The Christmas season was great, we had many wonderful moments and we had a lot of fun together.  We attended several beautiful and uniquely touching services and we managed to evade most of the mad rush that often accompanies that time of year.  But as we took the tree down, the space felt comforting to me, open and inviting.  The bookshelf is visible once again, and we can reach our library books without having to worry about knocking the tree down.  Normalcy.  A return to routine  And while I’ll miss the tender moment where Buddy turns on the lights and proudly tells me all about it, I look forward to having the space available again.

This year, seeing empty space in my home fills me with ideas for what it could become: could we make a reading nook?  A spot to build a fort?  A little workstation?  Or should we just get a large floorplant and allow the space to remain empty for a while?  Empty tells me of possibility this year.  It tells me of hope and dreams and the way we each evolve, learning and growing as we go.  So we seep the pine-needles, shake the tree skirt, carefully wrap up the ornaments and lights, tuck each item into its box. and bring it all downstairs for storage.  Each of these is an act of love, a moment of remembrance to a wonderful season where our family spent a little more time together.  Through this annual little ritual of taking down the tree, we bring closure to this season while preparing for next year with its own feelings and experiences, cradled in our familiar decorations and traditions.

Now we enter the season where I buy flowers for our home, where we try to get exercise any way we can, and where we anxiously await the moment where our little snowbells poke their heads through melting snow, announcing the arrival of spring.  It’s a season with its own beauty, anticipation, and joy.  This year, it is not empty; it is an invitation.


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