The Backend of Christmas 2010

Jan 25, 2011 by

She was young and fresh and beautiful when we welcomed her into our home with joy and anticipation. But now, she’s faded and brittle; her day is done and she must go.

Once again it’s time to take down “the tree”. Yes, I recognize that “organized” girlfriends took theirs down long ago, but in the spirit of procrastination, my tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve, so it’s only been four weeks. Nevertheless, the chore is upon me.

I can’t help contrast the feelings that go with putting up the tree with today’s thoughts as I take it down. The physical effort is roughly the same: hauling the tree up the steps to the living room; digging the boxes out from under the stairs; clearing a place of honor so that the lights cast their glow not just on us, but out the window to cheer holiday passersby. Naturally I’ve missed the date to recycle the tree in the nearby park again, so it will have to be hauled into the woods that line my property where it will join the one from several years ago – the one that is still bright green from the coat of paint I didn’t realize was there when I chose it.

Putting up the tree is a chore of anticipation, each step taking me closer to that over-the-top level of Christmas decoration for which I’m known. (My philosophy for the perfect tree is “when there are too many ornaments, you’re halfway there.”)  And the ornaments…each box presents its baubles, shining with the memories of holidays past. I smile in recognition as I recall a special friend or occasion such as the year my cat knocked the tree down on Christmas Day smashing many of my favorites.  My Mother and daughters sneaked out the next morning to hit the post-holiday sales and surprise me with a basketload of ornaments, each more unusual and beautiful than the next.

The last touch is always the julekurver, woven, heart-shaped paper baskets designed to hold small presents that hang on the tree. They are a Danish tradition learned as a child and dear to my heart. The first year I was married and in my own home, the money for ornaments was scarce, so I bought rolls of bright red, green, blue, black, white, silver and gold paper and made my own ornaments: small silver paper lanterns, garlands of multicolored ribbon and julekurver of every size and shape. Only the julekurver are left. This was their fortieth Christmas.  The handles have long since torn, so the bright baskets simply get tucked into the bald spots in the tree.

I resist taking down the decorations.  Not just because it’s a dreary chore, but because it signifies the end of a time that has always been special to me. As kids, our squabbles were put away, replaced by a blanket of warmth and kinship. As I grew older, the holidays meant home and family after long absence. Now, it means my grown children back home and together, if only for a moment.

So now all the bright baubles come down; the Christmas CD plays one last time, Santa and his reindeer go back in their bright red tub, and the crèche is packed lovingly away. The memories of and the hopes for the season are also packed away.  However, deep in my heart I know that even as the tree drops its needles in the wood, my beloved baubles are safe, awaiting another tree, another Christmas.

About the Author

Tani Wolff Has Written 17 Articles For Us!

I also write for a college admissions blog and create marketing materials. However, my true passion is preparing articles about Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ upcoming festival season. I spend eight to ten months each year researching the composers, librettists, time periods and performance records of our productions (as well as the music) to put together pieces that will enhance the enjoyment of our fabulous and devoted patron community. It is truly a labor of love.
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