I put the Christmas tree away today. It was long overdue and it had to be done. So I woke up and forced myself to do it.
This last Christmas was one of the finest I’ve ever experienced. Both of my teenaged kids came over the night before and we got up together on Christmas morning to open presents.
The day was wonderful. I put on some Christmas music (Vince Guaraldi and his classic Peanuts score) and we opened away. My son got some tee shirts and a hooded sweatshirt from me. My daughter got Toy Story 3 (we both love the movie) and a box of swirly light bulbs. Both of them got cash, stashed in envelopes on the tree branches.
Once we were up, showered and dressed, we drove in two cars to visit with my sister’s family and our elderly parents. My kids played with their two cousins, both younger, and dinner was turkey and trimmings. We enjoyed two kinds of pie. A nice fire warmed the living room, where we opened even more presents.
Then my kids had to go home – their other home.
I lingered for a half hour or so, then trailed back to my empty apartment in Concord. I turned on the lights to my artificial tree, admiring the sheer perfection of it. It had such a natural shape. The new ornaments my daughter had given me hung with pride. I just sat, turned the other lights down low, and soaked in the holiday spirit.
Each day after Christmas week I turned on the white tree lights and remembered our short and wonderful holiday. And wished it was still Christmas, still 2010. I never wanted that time to end.
But Christmas was over, and today was the day. I got the long cardboard box out of storage to pack away the three sections of tree. I unwound the silver garland, removed the ornaments, one by one. The last one I removed was a golden metal ‘2010’ – one of my daughter’s gifts to me.
I had turned on some Christmas music for the occasion, thinking it would ease the pain. Bad idea. By the time Nat King Cole, Bing and even Elvis had crooned their classics, my chest was beginning to tighten. Blue Christmas? No way. I shut the boom box off.
I boxed the tree and trapped it inside with plenty of tape. All else went into a large plastic bag and a box. I gathered up all the Christmas cards, the newsletters, the stockings. Two trips to the attic and I was done.
Now there’s a big empty space where the tree used to be. Next year the tree will emerge once more, but when it does, it won’t be the same. It won’t be Christmas 2010.