Ahhh, the morning sun shining down with the promise of a new year, sparkling on the bits of snow and ice, and highlighting….. the heap of dead Christmas trees. It’s kind of a sad sight in a way. So many trees, which gave their lives so we could decorate our homes for the holidays, unceremoniously dragged out and left by the side of the road. Well, at least in our town that happens. It’s like some sort of secret Dead Tree Society, where seemingly overnight the piles on certain corners get higher and deeper until the DPW comes along with a mulcher.
It is surprising how soon some of those trees start showing up. My husband and I saw one the day after Christmas. Some folks don’t waste any time. If we all played by the rules, of course, the decorations would not go up weeks in advance (during what my BFF’s hubby calls Hallowthanksmas), and instead our trees and décor would be maintained for the full 12 days of Christmas. Just ask Mary:
However in our busy lives, we tend to bend the rules. We get excited to make our homes festive and look forward to Christmas, and to ringing in the new year, so we spruce up our environments with our twinkling lights early. We may have the best of intentions to enjoy it for as long as possible. But at some point, no matter how pretty and cheerful it all may look, we start to get antsy about taking it all back down again.
I get it. Really, I do. I’m one of those R.W.’s who goes all out with the decorating. I inherited that passion from my mother. Every year I put a lot of effort into putting up special décor, scenes, candles, you name it. Once I get it done, I’m thrilled and want to make it last. Then, somewhere along the line, as if someone flips a light switch, I’m done with it. I want my house back to normal. This year that switch flipped a couple of days ago when I was walking through my dining room – no, wait, correction, I was squeezing my way through the room – and I could no longer stand the clutter and tight spaces. My Christmas village takes up an entire side of the room, and the nativity scene takes up another corner — so the dining table and chairs are pushed aside and cramped. The table is loaded with now-stale cookies and candy and treats, all of which I’m sick of. Various gifts are spread out on surfaces and small piles on the floor because they haven’t all been put away. The poinsettia is wilting. It is time.
And so, because I have an extra day off to celebrate New Year’s Day, I will spend most of the weekend, like so many other R.W.’s, getting things packed up and put away, and cleaning the house. It will of course be bitter sweet – I am emotionally attached to many of the holiday items, and cherish being able to enjoy them once a year. Yet at the same time, I can’t wait for my home to feel open and airy again, and to put a new clean rug runner in the kitchen. It’s the little things that make me feel better.
Clearly this clean-out is symbolic. As we all celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another, we dearly want to feel like we are getting a fresh start. To have hope, to be able to take a deep breath and some how start over. Even if we don’t stay up until midnight, even if we don’t go to a big wild party, or even watch plastic-faced Ryan Seacrest count down the big ball with thousands of people wedged into Times Square — no matter how we celebrate — we all want to have that glimmer of new, of a clean slate to start over.
So, by the end of this weekend, I expect to see even more trees by the curb. I expect to take dozens of trips up and down my basement stairs as I pack away my decorations. I expect, like every year, I will feel like the house looks a bit bare, but refreshing and somehow a bit new again. A fresh perspective.
In the spirit of a renewed perspective, rather than see those dead trees as something sad and pathetic, I’ll think about how they could be recycled into something new. They could be mulch for our flower gardens, or bedding for animals, or who knows, maybe even be made into paper for the pages of a book.
After all, when we all wake up in a new year, it will be the first page in a blank book that is 365 pages long.
And once again, we have our chance to make it a best seller.
Happy New Year!