Our tree was especially pretty this year--very full, exactly the right height for our living room, and small enough so our tiny white lights could be generously sprinkled over its surface.
We usually take the tree down on New Year's Day and I don't look forward to it. I love those 3 weeks before Christmas when its fragrance, rich colors and gentle twinkling fill my senses, especially at night.
Therefore, I'm almost always suprised when I start to enjoy this "chore." My husband removes the angel first, a tall beauty with a delicate smile who has replaced our first, flimsy dime-store angel but is not a whit more precious.
As I wrap and box each ornament, I am flooded with memories: the person who gave it to us and when, the time and place where we bought it, our kids' pride as they hung the ornaments they made in school, relatives ill or deceased whose ornaments still brighten our holiday.
Some ornaments are as old as our marriage or our children or whatever house we lived in at the time. Some recall trips to foreign countries or point out a special friend or artist. A few remind me how frustrating they were to make--or how therapeutic.
Our Christmas tree, like the furniture and decorations in our house, the flowers and shrubs in our yard, the children and animals who shared our lives, has become a rich living history of us and our family. It is an incredible gift.
Therefore, for those who have had to retrieve special ornaments from the street, the garbage or dumpster, or a friend's protective attic, I send sympathy, love and the hope that your next Christmas will be different.
All holidays, customs, and memories come with baggage. How I wish the baggage were the kind no one minds carrying.