I hate this day. Every year it comes around. It’s inevitable. You can’t avoid it. Today is the day, and I hate it. Today, I must take down my Christmas tree and put away the holiday décor.
As I sit here on my comfy leather sofa with my morning cup of coffee, the snow glistening white outside, the fire glowing; I know what must be done. Why then, is it so hard? My friends are gleefully posting on Facebook that they are so excited their house is back to normal with all the Santa figures and snow globes boxed up and safely stashed for the rest of the year. But me? I sit in silence dreading the moment that I touch the first ornament and put it away. Which will be first? Where do I start?
Maybe it will be the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament from 1985; the year our son Aaron was born. Or the one from 1988 when Rachel joined our family. Maybe it’s the golden key from our “first home” or the one shaped like Noah’s ark that represents surviving the “Flood of ‘96”. But I will hold out for the last ornament. The last one thoughtfully removed, and placed in it’s box this year will be my newest ornament, purchased just a week ago, at the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria. My mother gifted the ornament to me at the end of our two week European Christmas adventure. It holds within its 455 crystal beads reminders of the special moments we shared on our trip; and I’m not ready to put it away yet. I want to treasure it a bit longer.
David and I decided our first Christmas as a married couple to purchase just one dated ornament per year to hang on the tree. The ornament had to represent us and signify a special occasion or event from the year. I’m not sure why we started this. Could be because we were totally dirt poor our first Christmas and could only afford one ornament. Or maybe we were thinking ahead to the many Christmases to come that would be represented by unique and thoughtful reminders of who we are as a family. Whatever the reason, our tree each year displays our married and family life as represented by over 39+ ornaments. We have over the years purchased a few extras during our travels here and there. We have an ornament from the White House from the year I chaperoned a Jazz Band trip with Aaron to Washington D.C. There is an ornament of an elephant I purchased during a mission trip with World Vision to Sri Lanka…and now…the limited-edition Estrella ornament designed by Sternenprinz in Vienna; purchased on a cold but sunny day at the Christmas Market in Vienna. The massive, yellow, 1,441-room Baroque, Schönbrunn Palace created the perfect backdrop for our last market. With over 80 booths laid out on the white graveled courtyard, it afforded us the best-of-the-best of all Vienna had to offer. Food, crafts, glassware, ornaments and holiday goodies, all hand-made. All gorgeous. All inviting us to savor the moment. And the Estrella star. The perfect memento of our once-in-a-lifetime trip.
David brings the ornament tub into the living room. Do you want me to help, he asks? But I say no. This might take me all day, but I will honor each ornament as it is lovingly placed in the tub. Put away until next year. Put away, but not removed from my heart.
My life-word for 2017 is treasure! I encourage you to make your 2017 the best year it can possibly be filled with friends, family and treasured moments.