the tree that won’t quit

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the old-fashioned lights on my tree go out.  I know it is a blown fuse in one of the strings, and make an effort to find it, but there are too many ornaments, too much density to disturb to really unearth the problem.  So I enjoy the tree for a few more days as is, still so beautiful even without the lights on.  And then begin the process of removing all the ornaments and packing them away in their boxes.  I have a slow methodical process for taking the ornaments off…handling each one carefully, feeling the energy of each unique contribution one last time before releasing it to its cave for the rest of the year.  I always appreciate the variety…from walnuts simply decorated with glitter made as a young child, to ornate balls decorated with velvet and beads and ribbons made in the basement workshop my mother set up each year when we were kids, to all the ornaments made with my own kids when they were young.  And then all the special gifts, purchases and ‘finds’ over the years,  there is just such a vast variety.  There are many boxes, each different in size and shape, boxes that have held these ornaments for over 25 years now, and I place each special beauty accordingly, knowing exactly which box each one wants to be in.  Filling these boxes is as much a joy as emptying them and it is particularly special this year.  I can’t say why yet, it just is…

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The boxes are now full.  I leave them open one last night, for one last look before putting the covers on and storing them away….

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And wonder if the poignancy I feel in this ritual is because I am doing this before the tree is ready to quit.  Usually the tree is dry and crackly and asking for release by the time I take it down.  The past few years I even snip off a few branches each day to put in the fire, making a ritual of transitioning from the fullness of Christmas to the silent space of deep winter, until what is left is just the trunk, bare and stark like the rest of the trees outside…

But this year’s tree is still soft and supple under my fingers as I remove each ornament.  The green is rich and still oozing its balm.  And the form is just so beautiful, even without lights and ornaments, a kind of simple wholeness that wants to be experienced a little longer.

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I am appreciating all the spaces between branches that still hold the memory of each ornament, and the light that now filters through naturally.

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And each day I sit in my living room with this beautifully unadorned tree until it is light outside, wondering, will today be the day?

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