Friday, May 29, 2015
A Little , Final, Christmas Tree Talk As The New Year Begins
It started when someone else's post about taking down the tree got me thinking about more than just when it is I take down my tree. The post ran too long (in fact both posts are now too long, but not AS long), so I decided to address the peculiar (bizarre?) thing about whispering to a tree from two angles - when Christmas has been perfect, and when it has been far from it (or at least quite a bit away from perfect).
Christmas trees are, of course, sparkling reminders of all of the beautiful and happy aspects of Christmas, but sometimes also, at least in some ways, sparkling and contrasting reminders of the ways in which - at least for one person or another - Christmas didn't always, if at all, sparkle anywhere nearly as much as the tree, itself..
Particularly, perhaps, for those of us who have put up decades' worth of Christmas trees, taking down the tree can be, first, a reminder of how we felt when we were putting it up. Some years (most years if we're lucky) feeling like Christmas is the very thing that makes us decide it's time to put up the tree. Sometimes we don't quite feel like Christmas but it is the decorated tree, itself, that gives us that first taste of feeling like Christmas. People who have put up enough Christmas trees over enough years have very likely run into those years when the task of first putting up and then decorating that tree was a task they didn't feel like doing or even resented; and that tree (whether real and alive or instead artificial but often one family's tradition, itself) was something that was, at best, resented; and at worst, hated in its most natural, pre-decorated, state; back when this object that represents so much about Christmas, itself, was nothing more than a benign object without thoughts or feelings while the person responsible for making it more than what it was back then brought to that tree not just decorations and lights, but the hopes, anticipation, and even dread for the season being ushered in.
So, on those years in which a Christmas tree about to be taken down has represented nothing but all the Christmas spirit that we are supposed to feel during the season, taking down the tree can be the not-too-complex matter of hating to say "good-bye" to something that has been nice to have around.
In those years, however, when coming by Christmas spirit has either been a challenge or impossible, there can also (at least to some degree) be some regret and/or sadness when it comes to taking down something that (sometimes in spite of ourselves) we've enjoyed and/or appreciated; and maybe even becoming a little attached to. That regret, I suppose, comes from not having been able to enjoy or appreciate the tree as much as one would have liked. Sometimes, too, I suppose (and here's a little bit more of my nuttiness when comes to sentimental attachments to some objects, particular those into which we invest time and care out of our appreciation of life and our love of those around us) that regret can involve some guilt about the fact that a perfectly innocent object that could/did mean or do any harm or hurt had been met with a resentment (even hatred, perhaps) from a heart that's not generally comfortable with, or accustomed to, such unfair coldness - especially at Christmas time.
And, all that aside, I suppose, too, that there is most often, and for most people, some sense of looking forward to getting back to life as usual while also looking forward to moving on into the new year, and closing the proverbial book on Christmas, regardless of how wonderful, how difficult, or how "little-of-both" the the most recent Christmas has been. There can be also be a sense of guilt (at least for guilt-inclined lol) for wanting to be rid of something to which we've become a little attached over a fairly long stretch of time.
And so, each year when I whisper that "thank you" to each year's tree, it's a matter of, I guess, saying either "thank you for doing such a great job" or else "thank you for doing a great job in spite of me and a whole lot of other things that aren't your fault or mine." As for the "see you next year"... Well, I suppose besides the fact that I assume I will see it next year (even though I know that any number of things could happen to it or to me); I suppose that saying this helps to ease that hint of ever-so-slight sadness that comes from saying "good-bye" to something that, if nothing else, represents good things and good intentions even when it sometimes (or only) reminds us things that are not nearly all those good things and intentions are. Then, too, that thing about whispering "see you next year" can also be my way of trying to make up for any of my own failures-in-spirit any given Christmas-year; and remind both three tree and myself that I'll try to do better next year.
The thing is, on those years when we've set up that tree with thoughts or feelings that are hardly the stuff of which Christmas spirit is made it is generally with a certainty that the Christmas season to come will not be in one way or another, what Christmas seasons are really supposed to be. Once the tree is up and decorated it can be a reminder to us that at least we're still trying. Then, when it's time to take down the tree and remind ourselves (and/or in some cases, the tree) that next year we'll "do better", sometimes those words are about the commitment and determination that will accompany any other New Years resolution. Sometimes, instead, they're about hope. Either way, and like the task of taking down that tree itself, those words are about moving on - because time, like Christmases, passes; and tomorrow's - whether like rainbows or runaway trains - keep turning into yesterday's.
Posted by ME Whelan at 10:10 PM