On Tuesday I took down the big Christmas tree. It is an artificial tree more than eight feet in height. It is one of the most realistic-looking Christmas trees I have ever seen. The wife brought it home several years ago and I have no idea what she paid. I did not ask and she did not volunteer.
Christmas is special for my wife. She goes all out. She redecorates every room in the house in a Christmas theme. There are at least three other Christmas trees of varying heights in addition to the big one. Lighted garland festoons the mantles, and her hand-carved Santas are on a shelf. There is a multitude of snowmen ranging from tiny ones an inch tall to a big stuffed one sitting in a little wooden chair beside the antique jelly cabinet we use for DVD storage. My wife especially likes snowmen. It takes her days and days to decorate the house just right.
As with all things Christmas, we have a lot of tree ornaments. The trees are all filled until almost no space can be found to hang them all. When it is not Christmas time each ornament goes into its original box and all of those boxes go into a big box like a crazy cubist jigsaw puzzle only my wife can assemble. Many of the decorations are Hallmark-type, but lots are handmade. Many have the kid's names and a year painted on them. My wife always buys new ornaments each year. I have yet to perfect a suitable method for undecorating the tree. Do I take off all of the ornaments and then search for the right box, or do I get out a box and search for the matching ornament on the tree. Nether method is efficient.
We had only been dating a couple of years. There had been occasional serious discussions about our future.. She suggested we begin buying each other Christmas ornaments for when we ever have our own tree; if and maybe sometime in the future. I was stupid boy. The "plan" was far advanced beyond my understanding. As I take off the the skiing fox, the caroling bear, two of the ornaments she first bought for me, the ornaments do what they are supposed to: bring back happy memories of long-ago Christmases. I smile at the ceramic bear with the little red knitted hat and scarf she bought for our first married Christmas.
A blanket of white still covers the ground outside my window. The sky is cloudy and the long days of winter still lie in front of us. The cheery lights of the Tree are gone, Most of the decorations beyond a few snowmen are safely boxed away for another year in their storage places under the bed, in the closets, in the garage and shed.
The house is mostly back to its normal eleven-month self. It is a happy home, but a sadder place. I suppose we could adopt the year-round Christmas decorations motif I have read of others trying. But the whole point is to change the house over to something magic and special during the holidays. As I watched my wife lovingly wrap one of her Santas in tissue paper and put it in its place in a box last night it dawned on me I can hardly wait until next Thanksgiving.