Putting Away Christmas

“Let’s not put away Christ with the Christmas trappings.”

c e hollis

After New Year’s Day, I undo the ornaments and lights from the tree and pack them up in boxes to return to a plastic tub in the upstairs bedroom closet. The nativity scene, the stained-glass ornaments I painted with the children years ago, the wooden squares and rectangles we decoupaged with the Christmas story characters cut from Christmas cards, my collection of glass angels, and assorted surviving glass balls.

Ron hauls the tree outside and down to the burn pit. I sweep and vacuum up pine needles until the room smells strong of Daddy’s trees cut from the tree farm in Michigan. It smells of the pruning on a summer day and of the shop where Brink’s Boughs were made from extra tree branches when the trees were cut each December.

My living room at once feels larger and my potted house plants seem to sigh with relief now the big guy has moved out. For weeks it seems the needles turn up when I sweep again or sit in the rocking chair or I find them on the windowsill of under the buffet or the coach.

I sit on my couch and look around the room––jumping up to take a red velvet bow from my grapevine wreath, the Christmas cards from the shelf, the decorations from the table centerpiece, candles, lights, pinecones and red ribbons. I put away the punch bowl and ladle with the cups tucked inside. 

Finally, I sit again and treat myself to a lone candy cane missed by all of the grandchildren. Peppermint—satiny smooth and shaped like a shepherd’s crook.

Sun shines in as I reminisce about this Christmas and the many past, and dream about the year to come. There is so much promise in it fresh and unblurred, waiting for me. A hopeful January and February and the yet unstained spring and summer loom up like big and empty like the pages of a fresh journal waiting to be written. 

The holidays are happy times here and yet I pack them away. Careful, I hope, to not pack away with them a cheerful heart, joy, hope. I should keep at hand generosity, caring, empathy for the sick and the needy, kindness to those whose lives intersect mine. I want to sing every day, to laugh and tell stories with family. I want to share and care for my friends and my neighbors. I want to visit here and in their homes. I want to welcome guests and feed them liberally and I want prayers to be said all hours of every day.

I have put away all the trappings of Christmas and yet all year I want to remember why we celebrated in the holiday season. I want to daily remind myself that all the freedoms and gifts of my life, home, family, and farm come to me because a baby, Jesus, the Christ, came to earth so long ago.

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