If Facebook photos are any indication, the ritual of the Christmas tree; the trip to choose the perfect one, the decorating of, is often a communal endeavor, full of traditions, re-discovery and anticipation. “I remember making that in the fifth grade! We chose those when we were in Hawaii!”
Perhaps it is the awareness of the short life-span, as well as its marker of the season that adds to its poignant beauty. The memories of other Christmasses, of loved ones gathered around other trees. The eternal child in all of us.
During the brief days when the tree is central to my home, I am aware of a predictable cycle of life inside me:
- Singular beauty
When the children were small, and the excitement of the season was pervasive, a few quiet moments sitting near the tree in the dark, quiet before-bedtime house allowed the true meaning of the season to surface. Over the years, I’ve discovered that “the children” and “busy” take different forms at different stages – and all welcome those quiet moments in the soft light of the Christmas tree.
From the time the tree goes up, my first task of each morning is plugging the lights in. With cup of tea in hand, Granddog Maddie and I settle on the sofa to watch the day begin. The tree is nestled in the corner of the sunroom, where the reflection of the lights on the windows multiplies the twinkling, as daylight slowly reveals the small lake beyond. In the late afternoon, the vista will reverse itself- the winter sun blazing across the horizon in fiery pinks and golds, and the twinkling multiplies across the water, on the windows until the lights appear like a thousand stars
Against the inky darkness. The cycle moves from the anticipatory beauty of the gifts chosen with love, wrapped with prayer, spilling out from the piney branches to the singular beauty of the after- gifting time.
Procrastination is sure. I am reluctant to face the dismantling…..its own solitary ritual. No matter how carefully I sweep, somewhere, months down the road, dry pine needles will emerge, and I will smile. They, too, are part of the ritual. A reminder that the tree which lifted my heart and focused my attention on the birth of the baby who would change the world has moved outside into the world, and calls me to do the same. To honor the cycle, hold its beauty in heart and mind, and journey on.
The first morning after the tree has come down, I miss the twinkling from the sunroom corner, the reflections dancing into the dawn. The tea is comfortingly hot, and my furry companion settles at my feet with a little sigh. The tree corner, the mantle, the dining room table seem momentarily stark without their Christmas greens.
As the daylight fills the room, I am aware of the clear, clean space of a new year. The place in the cycle which invites me to new beginnings, new adventures, new learnings.