All through the years when my children were growing up, I went to great lengths to be sure we had a large and showy Christmas tree. It was always taller than I was and laden with large ornaments. But as the children grew up and moved out to be on their own, our annual trees became smaller and smaller until I ended up, more years ago than I can remember, with an artificial tree only two feet high, including the large gold star that tops it off. That little tree now stands at the back of my round white marble dining room table. I don’t remember when I first got it.
The ornaments on the tree are tiny. There are perhaps half a dozen traditional balls in a variety of colors, but most of the ornaments are three-dimensional representations of angels, snowmen, bells, and gingerbread houses. One, a white bell, is labelled “Meg&Robert 10-4-97”. It must have come from my youngest daughter, Meghan, and her husband, Robert, in October 1997. It has been on the tree for many years. It tells me that the tree originated more than 25 years ago.
After New Year’s, I put the little tree back into storage. I keep it in a white plastic bag in a box in the closet off my workout room in the lowest floor of my split-level house. Putting it away for the year always feels a little sad. It means that the happy celebration with my children and friends is over for another year. The unyielding cold and short days of winter are with me until March. The warmth I so yearn for after all my years in the tropics won’t arrive until June at the earliest. And the joy of Christmas is past. So I hunker down to endure the bleak time ahead.