I've been slowly un-decorating our house, taking down stockings, replacing hanging decorations with their non-Christmas counterparts, and only now, as I'm writing this, did I realize that I'm taking down the decorations exactly the same way I put them up -- a little at a time. But last night, when my husband asked me which night this week I wanted to take down the tree, I balked.
I don't want to take the tree down. Not yet.
This morning, I got up and, without really thinking about it, started picking up this and that and setting it aside to be washed (tablecloth, Christmas towels) or packed away. This is painless both organizationally and emotionally, especially since I know snowman decorations will be coming out of hibernation to take the place of the Christmas doo-dads and keep things from looking too sparse.
But the tree? That's a different story.
I know the time is coming. Still, I much prefer to take the tree down on a weekend when I can do so in a leisurely fashion.
The collection of ornaments it bears is far from a decorator's dream. Some ornaments are there just because they're pretty, but most represent our travels, limited though they may be, and the last two decades of our lives, beginning with the ornaments from our first Christmas together, when my daughter was not yet a part of our celebration, and culminating with the Quinnipiac ornament that we put on the tree late last December. Each year, we bought a "family ornament" -- sometimes more than one -- to add to the tree, and each year, our tree tells our story.
We have Winnie the Pooh and Eloise and Barbie from when Leah was small, along with a Royal Caribbean ship ornament from the year we took our cruise. We have a variety of beach or seashell ornaments, ranging from a pretty, but unwieldy one purchased at a shop in Bethany Beach to seashell angels representing Leah and the baby I lost. We have ornaments from New York City (several) and an entire collection of Baby's First Christmas ornaments from the year Leah was born, along with handmade treasures from her elementary school years.
While I could certainly make a case for the notion that I avoid taking the tree down because of this, that would merely be an excuse. I could blame my procrastination on the necessity of the rearranging the furniture (again), but that, too, is an excuse. The truth is, I just hate to see it go. And, since my allergies have long since ruled out a real tree, I could keep it up until Valentine's Day if I wanted to.
But I don't. It's just that my readiness to pack it all away has nothing to do with a date on a calendar -- liturgical or otherwise. So, I plan to take this week to soak in the tree, to enjoy its lights and colors and the lingering sparkle of Christmas.
Next weekend, I'll once again box up the memories and restore the room to its usual configuration -- the one that means I don't run into the printer tray in the dark as I try to dodge the tree.
But this week, I want to revel in a little more Christmas.