I haven’t always been a “Christmas person”. Only when I got married did I really relish in the ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ romantic element. Growing up, there was something about Christmas that made me feel rather melancholy. Christmas joy is a bit like chasing the dragon. There’s extraordinary highs and lows. It comes and then just as quickly it goes. As a child I anticipated Santa and dreamt about new toys, Barbie dolls, mostly. When I became too old for dolls, there was a certain Christmas magic that passed away.
I loved the decorations, Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song” that warm holiday feeling…but mostly I just loved the Christmas tree. I loved turning off all the lights and how it glowed in the dark. I loved lying under the tree and staring up through ornaments, tinsel and colored balls.
To me, dismantling the tree is one of the saddest events of the calendar year.
Straight and ready, tall and steady. That’s how I like my trees and my men. And similarly so, I don’t want to get my holly jolly’s out of them for a month or so and toss them away carelessly. Not unless you count an old Spanish lover I had…Rodrigo. I used to wrap him in lights, cover him in tinsel and stare up at his balls.
But that was another time altogether.
On the last day of my Christmas holiday, I was feeling jazzed. Moving forward. Looking ahead. I’ve had a nice break, and now it’s time to go back to work. I’m telling this to my husband, speaking in an upbeat voice “I’ve had a nice rest, I’m ready…” and then I’m crying like a baby. And not because I’m not totally in love with my job, it’s like a friend once said to me: “When given the option, time off is preferable”.
We had intended on taking the tree down that Sunday. We were doing laundry, making lunches, organizing rooms; really taking on the new year and the upcoming work week. But there was a general sense of the blues, that last day of summer camp feeling. That tree was like our glittering mascot, the wing-man for the fireplace…we’ve grown accustomed to it. Taking the tree down is the last straw, the Yuletide death rattle. We decided to just leave it be and enjoy the rest of our Sunday, enjoy what was left of Christmas.
Though I was organized and prepared, the first day of work was like waking up from a gorgeous sleep, but realized you overslept and missed your flight.
It was busy, that phone wouldn’t stop ringing, people kept asking me questions. I felt very tongue-tied, responding with phrases like: “I like the Christmas because of the lights and the balls”.
I’m suddenly not used to not wearing a bathrobe at noon. Pants have become a real problem for me.
That Monday I cringed at the taste of my coffee. The lack of Irish Cream had the same effect as thinking you are about to sip coke through a straw, but it’s actually ice tea. It’s startling…and depending on how must you anticipated that carbonated sip…deeply upsetting.
Now, the week has passed. It was filled with meetings and late work days, and a first aid course. My husband was struck down by a dreadful flu. It’s now Saturday, January 11th and our Christmas tree is still up.
And I’m actually wearing a similar outfit as this gal overhead. I often mince around the house in sheer pants and a mink stole. They frown on that code of dress at work, fur and partial nudity…and that’s just another thing I have to deal with post-holiday.
Benjamin is the sickest I’ve ever seen him. Fevered and delusional, the last few days have been a blur of work and getting my Florence Nightingale on.
The outfit does feel extreme, but I’m one to dress for the occasion. If you must get profoundly ill during the first week of work, causing you to act like a wounded animal caught in a fence, rendering us unable to attend a much anticipated mini-break this weekend….then I get to wear this.
I made mention to Benjamin that I would take down the tree on Saturday. He kindly offered to watch me do so. Once home from a meeting, and after a few hours of work. The tree was staring at me…expectantly. Like it knows that it’s stayed at the party for far too long. It is the morning of the holiday season, and this is the tree’s walk of shame.
Truth is…Christmas tree, (and I know I’ve said this about carbs) I just can’t quit you.
It makes me sad…what happens to a tree in January. Last year we chopped a tree down in the woods, this year we bought a tree at a lovely market. Both seasons we discussed the idea of an artificial tree. This seems so frightfully inauthentic to me.
Then, once you’ve enjoyed that pine smell of an authentic tree, you have the authentic task of removing it as though it were a dead stripper after an ill-fated bachelor party. Last winter, we intended to recycle it, and ultimately my husband tossed it in the dumpster. Ugh, there was nothing sadder than the errant string of silver tinsel poking out of mouth of the yellow metal dumpster.
Perish the thought of dumping the once living tree. Driving away with the greenery shrinking in the rear view window. “I’m sorry little tree, you deserved better. I should have done right by you”.
Tomorrow we will face the task of packing the rest of Christmas into a box. And I will miss the sparkle of the little white lights.