Oh, Christmas Tree.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over — it feels like it was just Thanksgiving a minute ago.  It also felt like I decorated late this year, but it’s been that way since The Mid-Century Supper Club Potluck ramped up, and all holiday effort gets thrown into that first, and then I can start at home. Last year it was a little chaotic since it was our first Christmas in our new house and I didn’t know where to put everything, but this year I think we had a handle on it.

My mom adhered to the Swedish tradition of setting up the tree after Lucia Day on December 13th, and taking it down on the 12th Day of Christmas on December 6th, Epiphany. I like taking it down then, too, because I like making it last. But we took it down a day earlier this year, because our tree was so dried out I was worried the ornaments would fall and break. I was having dreams that my parents’ and Jon’s grandma’s ornaments were shattering, and it made me anxious. Plus it was a rainy Saturday and I’m still not feeling great, so it was good timing.

Even though we got a late start on the rest of the house, we actually got an early start on the tree on Thanksgiving weekend. On the recommendation of a friend, we went to Loma Vista Farm and were completely charmed. There’s a pony and a horse and goats and alpacas and a friendly barn cat and a miniature pig named Rocky who loves belly rubs! The Christmas tree sales fund the farm year-round for educational activities for kids of all ages. I was enchanted by this little slice of paradise in our town.

[Unfortunately, 2 weeks after we got our tree someone broke in and vandalized all the trees, poinsettias, wreaths and canopy, and they lost out on important sales. It broke my heart so I started a fundraiser for them so they can keep doing their good work. Please visit this sweet little oasis!]

And I was enchanted by our tree, too. For most of my adult life I’ve had a fake or aluminum tree, but after my mom died and I got all my parents’ ornaments, we started getting a real one. Last year we didn’t realize how tall our ceilings in the new house were so our tree was small, but this year we got a beautiful, majestic tree.

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I especially liked the top (though we trimmed it) because it reminded me of a story I read as a kid about a Christmas tree with a wonky top that was never chosen and it was sad, but it wound up becoming a pole that a morning glory vine grew on so it was beautifully decorated after all. I think of that story every year.

And it was HUGE! Big enough for our ornaments, but Jon’s grandma’s precious ornaments and my parents’ as well. Unwrapping them is like unwrapping old friends, and I may or may not have kissed some of them before hanging them on the tree.

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For some reason, this ornament has always been one of my favorites. It’s not that great or exciting, but I always loved it — it fascinated me. In fact it broke at one point and my mom was going to throw it away, but I took putty and put back together. (I didn’t do a great job, being about 8 at the time, but it’s still holding up!) It was always a very big deal that I had to hang it by a green light, and every year my mom would set this one — and a couple others — aside for me to hang. It was the first to go up this year, by a green light, of course.

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But I really was having anxiety dreams that the ornaments would fall, so we took the tree down today.  It was so brittle, but it was such a sturdy, wonderful tree that it held up (and not as many needles shed as we expected), and we didn’t have any casualties. I carefully wrapped them up (I may or may not have kissed some of them before putting them away) and they’re ready for next year.

Its last day, before and after. Goodbye, tree. The corner looks so empty now and it’s a little sad, but then again, I started feeling crummy again so it’s very possible the rest of the decorations will be up until March. Maybe even April. (One time I kept my pink and white Barbie Christmas tree up until July. I just got so used to it I forgot it was even there.)

The holidays were really nice this year (except the getting sick part). They’ve been bittersweet the past few years, but this year was just lovely. I missed my mom and dad of course, and I always will, but this year I was okay. It was nice to be surrounded by their beloved decorations co-mingled with ours, and it felt like they were close. It felt like home.

Which is really good because clearly I kind of love Christmas.

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