Well, I just put another Christmas away. Pulled a nearly 13-foot tree out my back door about 1:00 am. It takes me a good day to remove all my ornaments and lights and I got a late start.
Back in 2012, I wrote a piece about the annual ritual. Seeing that the sentiment has not changed and people enjoyed it I have reposted in years since. Seeing this year’s tree was my tallest and I think grandest I’ve decided to do so again.
Taking Down My Tree (a post-Christmas story)
I took my tree down today; except for the pine needles I’ll be picking up for the next twelve months, I packed Christmas away for another year.
It normally takes a better part of a day to defrock my tree.
I’ve always felt Christmas spirit is the collective soul of every person and experience that ever touched you that time of year, as well as every smile you put on another person’s face.
My tree has always been a manifestation of that. About 98% of my ornaments were gifts purchased or made by friends and family.
I was once able to tell the story behind each one, but the sheer number, not mention my age, made it necessary for me to start marking each with whom it was from and when it was given. This makes it much sadder when one is dropped. It has, with the magic of Super Glue, led to some pretty creative puzzle work whenever it was doable.
What makes my tree weird to some, especially those who prefer a color coordinated or themed, “store window” tree, is, in addition to ornaments you’ll find everything from the Hopalong Cassity wallet my grandmother gave me when I was a kid, to my son’s baby rattles, as well as gift tags to me adorned with his early artwork that tugs at my heart every time I look at them. You’ll find a few travel souvenirs and some very unique ornaments, like the famed Gilbert chemistry set test tube fly specimen ornament with added fringe around the top, created by my good friend, Lee. (If you’re reading this Lee, after 30 years, it is in need some new fringe)
Christmas trees have always been special to me, even before mine became vehicles of “Take Me back” or the organic scrapbooks they are. The tree is my favorite part of the season. I’ve hosted a party for 34 years dedicated to decorating it.
I’ll never forget my dad, standing in the tree lot behind Branson’s Dairy where we bought our tree each year, appalled by the price increase over the year before; exclaiming, “I’m not going to pay $1.00 for something we’re going to throw away in 2 weeks!” Of course, like that $1.00 per gallon gas that was going to take us all back to horses, I can’t remember the price ever leading him to not paying the money and us not having a tree. Nor will I forget the year my Grandpa Spike infuriated my grandmother when their tree was a branch he sprayed day-glow orange and adorned with ornaments he made out of aluminum cans. I was teen by then and thought it was totally “modern”, and much more hip than those artificial white trees that were supposed to be “in” at the time.
I spent a lot of time as a kid lying under our tree looking up at my distorted reflection looking back at me from the beautiful glass orbs that hung from the bottom branches, watching the bubble lights bubble, and imagining what would be under the tree Christmas morning.
Ah, Christmas morning! We were not a rich family; we never got toys when we went shopping with mom. We saved our allowance for things like that, but Christmas was different. I’ll never forget gazing upon that array of colored bows and brightly wrapped boxes. To my small eyes, the heap of presents always seemed so enormous. I would remember the sight of all those brightly wrapped packages much longer than I’d ever remember what was in them.
I know my kid was among the many spoiled by parents trying to recreate that experience, not thinking it was seeing it through those “little eyes” that made the colorful bounty seem so enormous.
I was always sad when my mom said it was time to take down our tree and return her house back to normal.
I was a silly kid who thought everything had feelings, which led to, “how could we discard something that had brought us so much joy?” I my mom who had an answer for everything, saw that. She would tell me we had to share our tree, and that the birds could not have their Christmas until we put our tree out. So every year in the excitement of watching the birds, not mention, squirrels and an occasional mouse, rush to breadcrumbs and popcorn we had bestowed upon the branches, I moved past the roar of the tree’s absence in our living room.
Today I found myself thinking, “Thank you, mom,” as I tossed some shredded hot dog buns and some sunflower seeds onto an otherwise unadorned tree in woods behind my house.