It will all be waiting exactly as it was put away. Waiting to be touched by hands and seen by eyes that will be so different.
Yesterday I finally got around to taking down the Christmas tree. I know… I know. But really it wasn’t too late based on the way I was raised. My parents aren’t planning on taking their tree down until early February – after little Christmas. And one of my aunt’s always leaves her tree up until almost Easter. I swear to God.
But taking down the tree is one of the worst jobs of the year. I find it so depressing. It always gets me thinking of past Christmases and how they will never come back.
It also made me think of putting the tree-up at my parents and then having the “procession” and blessing the nativity and the tree. This is a tradition in my mom’s family. I remember being very little and going to my grandfather’s house for the same thing.
Here’s how it works:
We all gather in one room and the kids are given different figures to put in the nativity – sheep, goats, Joseph, Mary, shepherds, etc – and then we walk around the house and sing a Christmas song – Silent Night is first (I think). And then we stop at the Nativity and place all the figures in (Jesus isn’t placed in until Christmas Eve) and then my mom (or my aunt back in the day) reads from a paper written by my grandma (who passed away over 40 years ago). Then the nativity is blessed, we sing Away in a Manger and then go to the Christmas tree, bless it by reading from the same paper, and then sing Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
It’s a tradition that stretches back generations. I really like it.
But every year my mom struggles to read my grandmother’s handwriting, which has faded over the years as my mom’s eyesight has also faded. And this year the reading was made even more difficult because my mom had tears in her eyes the whole time.
I think she cries for Christmases gone by. She cries because she misses her mom even still. She cries because she’s thankful that we were once again all together to do this. And she cries because she doesn’t know that we will all be together again next year.
Who knows what the year will bring?
If life has proven one thing it is this: Nobody ever knows. It’s all just guessing. Everything. Every single thing.
That’s good news and bad news.
Knowing that we never really know should remove a lot of worry from people. I know it doesn’t. But it should. And I try to remember it to help myself.
And because life is so uncertain but death is not, I know now that I should always treasure the moment I’m in.
Mindfulness. Being mindful of where I am and what is happening in the moment I’m living through.
I’m not even close to being perfect about this. But I’m so much better than I used to be. Just knowing about mindfulness helps. It’s a huge step forward.
And also choosing how to see each moment…
I try to always see the beauty in moments.
For example, my mom reading her mom’s written words. It can be seen as sad. If I think about it enough, I can probably even let it break my heart.
Instead, I see the beauty of it.
My grandma directing my mom’s words. My grandma putting her mother’s words into my mother’s mouth to bless the nativity and the Christmas tree.
How beautiful is that!
Stunning. It really is.
Now back to taking down my Christmas tree.
There is no beauty to be found in that. Is there? I don’t think so.
It just bums me out. Another Christmas gone.
And now I’m staring down the barrel of probably another 3 months of cold and snow.
As I put the decorations and the tree away… as I closed up each box… I wondered what my life would look like next year when I opened those boxes. And I thought about how different it was last Christmas when I took everything out.
I almost feel like there is some metaphor I’m missing. Some lesson that I should “get” and pass on here.
But I’ve got nothing.
The Christmas stuff is all put away now. And it’s -7 (yeah… 7 below zero!!!!) in my part of the world right now. There’s also a foot of snow on the ground.
And life will keep happening. Lessons will be learned. And plenty will change. Today. Tomorrow. The day after that. And so on.
So much will change.
And all the Christmas decorations will sit idly and wait through it all. My grandma’s beautiful words will sit in a drawer waiting too. It will all be waiting exactly as it was put away. Waiting to be touched by hands and seen by eyes that will be so different.