Undecking the Halls

Bowl of OrnamentsMany feel a distinct sadness when Christmas ends and it’s time to start storing away the holiday decorations for yet another year. I don’t.

Christmas, as much as I love it, begins to feel like much too much – and I love the tradition, the beautiful Christmas tree and decorations, and most of all, the special time with my family and my friends. But suddenly, I’m ready, and I welcome clearing the shelves, the tabletops, the windows; you name it, I may have put a holiday decoration there. I’m ready to pare it all down and return to simpler space.

I may even be a bit faster this year, spurred on by an incorrigible cat, who in his third Christmas season, seemed to have developed a bit of spite for what was around him. I can’t even chalk it up to rampant curiosity and a bit of playfulness. He was after the ornaments from day one – and with a vengeance. He simply didn’t want to bat things around or see what movement they might make. Mr. Fitzgerald went for the kill each time. And when I woke up this morning to find a beloved glass Santa ornament akimbo on the floor, missing part of his head and then another oversized glass ornament in my dogs’ sleeping basket near the tree, clearly pulled down from its perch on the tree, I knew it was time to start packing it all away.

I feel especially blessed during the holiday season. I have a warm, comfortable home, the ability to celebrate in the manner in which I enjoy, and most important – my family around me, not out of obligation, but rather because we truly want to be together. While there are presents abound and much food and drink, the basic truth of our holiday season is the thoughtfulness shown to each other and what our family truly means to us. That’s the gift that is present all year long, but is always so prevalent during the holidays when I know many families experience stress in gathering together – and we had the added gift of a precious 11-month old, who brightens every moment of every day.

Most of the Christmas decorations have a special memory associated with them, whether it’s from my kids’ earliest years or the beginning days of my marriage. Some have been gifts from my mother or from friends and family. I smile as I unpack them and remember the origin of each. When I pack them back up, it’s like storing containers and containers of precious memories, keeping them safe for a new view in the holidays beyond. While I don’t need material objects to cherish the memories, I will admit that they act as a prompt more times than not for things that don’t always come quickly to mind.

This has been an especially nice holiday season, with time put aside to visit with family, with friends, to watch movies at home and catch some in the theaters, to enjoy delicious food and tasty beverages, to watch the wonder of a tiny boy enjoy his first Christmas, and to have precious time late at night, in the quiet of the lit tree, reflecting on the year past.

So in packing up the holidays, and clearing the spaces once again, there’s this wonderful sense of openness, of new room to explore and grow – fresh possibilities ahead, and there’s nothing I like more than possibilities. And that’s what I wish for each of us in the year ahead – good health and countless possibilities. May we each have the courage and enthusiasm to pursue those that quicken our pulse and set our hearts to racing with excitement for what could be.

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