I spent a good portion of this week putting away the Christmas decorations. It’s always a bittersweet task to take each ornament off the tree, wrap it in tissue paper and place it carefully in one of the 16 large storage bins I have to accommodate all of our decorations.
As I carefully wrapped each ornament, I enjoyed a moment or two remembering our first introduction, what occasion it was, where it was purchased, or who gave it to me.
As I worked the memories of Christmases past washed over me and I found myself recalling the year my youngest, 3 years old at the time, got up early one morning while the rest of us slept and removed every ornament from the tree and unwrapped every present. That was the year I began hand-tying the ornaments to the Christmas tree, making them more difficult to remove, and also the year we stopped putting presents under the tree until Christmas Eve.
I came across a pieced-together and patched-up porcelain angel ornament that was purchased for my oldest, Rachel, now 22, just after she was born. The first time it was broken was when Rachel was about 2 years old and I didn’t have enough sense to put the ornament high on the tree where she couldn’t reach it. Consequently, she plucked it off the tree — and promptly dropped it. I glued it back together, and it remained intact until the second breaking, caused by my second child, Sam, pulling the entire Christmas tree over while trying to reach a candy cane.
That poor little ornament has been so badly broken, she now looks more like a defective gnome than an angel, but she is still cherished, perhaps even more so because of her injuries.
As happens every year, Christmas arrived so fast, and now it’s over, and it was a tender undertaking to pack everything away for next year and wonder what will happen in the 11 months before we meet again.
The mystery of the unknown. The happy moments sure to come, and some sad as well, I’m sure.
Packing up those ornaments, though, was kind of like wrapping a present for myself that next November I will unwrap and enjoy all over again.
But let’s be serious for a minute, shall we? I make it all sound so sweet and sentimental, but if I'm totally honest I have to admit the reminiscing and bittersweet turns pretty sour by about the eighth hour of un-decorating.
Decorating is one thing. Christmas is still on the horizon, and the world is filled with wonder and enchantment.
Come January, I just want to be able to walk through my house without getting tinsel caught up in my toes.
What began as a very organized process to dismantle Christmas and lovingly place each ornament in its designated box evolved over the period of several hours into ripping ornaments off the tree and tossing them across the room into whatever container had an available space. A few might not have even been protected by the safety net of tissue paper.
And that was before I even thought about the trees.
Have you ever tried putting a screaming, writhing, wailing 9-month-old baby in a snow suit? Piece of cake compared to putting a Christmas tree back in the box it came out of.
The mission finally accomplished, I took the floor and announced that “next year” we will have a simple Christmas.
One tree, one box of ornaments, one hour to put it up, one hour to take it down.
What I refer to as Christmas amnesia will hit me about September (if it even takes that long) and by Oct. 1 I will be counting down the days until I can make my way to the attic and pull out 16 boxes of Christmas glory.
Happy New Year!