Saturday, January 4, 2014

O Tannenbaum

Dickens and I got up extra early this morning to sit in the dark and admire the Christmas tree. Today is the day we take it down. I hate to see it go, but it's time. It's as dry and prickly as a desert cactus.

It seems like we just put it up. The holidays went by much too quickly, and we never really had a chance to enjoy it. Dickens did, though. Every year he spends hours lying on his back, looking up at the tree. I remember doing that as a child—lying on my back under the tree, breathing in the piney fragrance (at least until my parents got an artificial tree), gazing up at the lights and my distorted reflection in an ornament.

I wish I could do that now, but there just doesn't seem to be time. Also, it's difficult to get down on the floor these days (and even harder to get back up).

Our tree is more than a symbol of the holidays; it's a journal of the years Loretta and I have been together. The oldest ornaments—some of them antiques which had been in the family for decades when we got them—were a gift from my Aunt Vonna and Aunt Sheila. They brought them to our wedding twenty-five years ago, carefully packed in an old hat box from Wolf & Dessauer's department store.

The first decorations we purchased as a couple were a set of rose-colored glass ornaments (still complete, in spite of being frequently mistaken for cat toys) and an elegant Victorian lady who has not aged a day since she topped our first Christmas tree twenty-five years ago.

There are pictures of cats past and present, and souvenirs of the many trips we have taken together: a cloisonné cat from China, a cable car from San Francisco, a tyrannosaurus skeleton from the Field Museum in Chicago. There are gifts from friends and family, including commemorative ornaments from Mount Vernon and Hearst Castle from my parents, and one from my aunts commemorating the Santa display that lit up the side of the Wolf & Dessauer building when I was a child.

Every year these ornaments bring back joyful memories as we unpack them and hang them on the tree. Now, all too soon, it's time to pack them up again.

But we look forward to the coming year, and to making new memories to hang on next year's tree.


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