“Taking down Christmas” is always one of my saddest days of the year. I know many of you would quickly say that you just love to get your house back in order — but for me, it’s a combination of seeing Christmas (which I dearly love) go away, and wondering what will have changed when I pull out those boxes next year. I don’t like today. (And therefore I have set a timer. I shall do this based on effort invested and NOT on completion of the whole job. Don’t judge me.)
The year Christmas reigned…
You’d think it was the end of an error, but I saw it as the end of an era. The marriage had been over for a while, yet, he remained. That year I struggled with Christmas. But I decorated the tree. One of my best friends, and a business associate came to spend Christmas in our home that year. The kids had toys under the tree. Life was good… Except for that one little detail.
When I took the tree down toward the end of January – our family tradition – there’d been unexplained tears… As if life as I knew it was being packed away with the gold and white ornaments of our tree. The days came and went that year, until May, when he walked out the door.
There was something about the process of putting up the tree that following year that gave me freedom. I was relieved of the struggles of the year as I decorated that December. Christmas that year took my breath away. The bitter cold seeped into the house, through each of us, as we struggled to keep warm. At one point, we gathered in my queen size bed, me and four children, under heaping piles of blankets, until I escaped early in the morning… After a sleepless night in an over crowded bed, the dawn broke and I knew. This was going to be different. Christmas that year was the turning point, the moment I realized ‘I could do this.’ And I did.
Taking down Christmas that year was a revelation for me.
Bitter sweet moments, but memories had been made. New memories filled up the boxes, and the addition of bright red ornaments implied fresh starts, promises, and life would be lived to the fullest.
Our lives changed that Christmas, and we began to live again.
Still, taking down Christmas brought back memories, and putting it up again the following year meant more to me than I could explain. It became my declaration of God’s promise never to leave me.
There’s never been a year that I didn’t have ‘some Christmas’ even the years when I was out on my own. I still found a way to light up the season with God’s promise. And he’s never, ever, left me.