Twelfth Night has come and gone. The Three Wise Men have done their thing and headed home. At my house, the Christmas season has officially ended. Thus, even though the seven-foot tree in our bedroom was still drinking water this morning, my husband, David, pulled out his lopping shears after lunch and prepared to perform massive reduction surgery.
It always has saddened me to see the annual tree fed to the garden trash barrel. Even harder, though, has been removing the decorations. I didn't relish the pending task.
I evicted the critters from the tree branches first. The snakes, crickets, frogs and red-and-black bat were pretty easy to find. So were the tarantula, gecko and birds. The mice were a challenge, though, as usual. I walked past two of their dark brown wooden bodies on the first pass, even though they hung by their leather tails in plain sight. The small blue bat hid behind a silver garland, as did the glass pig. The crab had buried itself in the sheet we used to protect the carpet from the tree stand. I don't think any of the critters really wanted to go back into their storage boxes under our house, any more than our tree was ready for recycling. I mean, how would you feel about living in a shoe box or having thirty of your arms amputated?
I piled the other ornaments on our bed as I removed them from the tree. Glass balls...eggs hollowed out and decorated by my daughter-in-law…Russian dolls…bells… I tried not to cry when I boxed the Styrofoam ornaments my great-aunt Alice had created for me over 40 years ago. Using straight pins, she'd attached hundreds of small beads, sequins and other glittery items to the Styrofoam forms, all this after she'd become legally blind. And I knew there was still the mantelpiece in our living room to clear--the Nutcracker from David's oldest brother, the Styrofoam snowman and ceramic birds my great-grandmother had displayed in her apartment for many, many years. And the decorative candles in my lighted display cabinet. My wax angels and choir boys were so old they originally had sold for 15 cents apiece. I'd be happy looking at them all year round.
David entered the bedroom. He put away the garlands and lights. I left the room as soon as he commenced lopping branches.
I started a load of laundry then poured a cup of coffee. So many loved ones had passed from this earthly life. So many trees had been discarded.
Memories and ornaments remained.
May memories bring joy to you and those you cherish,
Laurel Anne Hill (Author of "Heroes Arise")
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.