Our family tradition, inherited from my maternal grandmother, is that it's bad luck to have the Christmas tree still in the house on New Year's Day. So I've spent all day deconstructing the ten foot fir that only a few weeks ago we were adorning.
It's a slow and contemplative process and gives me time to reconnect with each ornament as I remove it from the tree and lay it on the dining table to await the final boxing up and stowing away for another year. Old friends, these decorations, from the blue glass ball with my brother's name staggering across its surface, the glitter long gone, to the somewhat lurid pink and blue globe -- the last of a box of ornaments my mother purchased from my then boyfriend, now husband, in 1959 when his high school club was selling ornaments as a fund-raiser.
There are the simple stuffed fabric hearts that were a mainstay of the decorations when our boys were young and our dogs and cats rambunctious and there are two boxes of fragile glass ornaments inherited from my mother. A green wooden curtain ring with the figure of a baby on it marks our older son's first Christmas in 1972 and simple felt cutouts sprinkled with glued-on sequins commemorate our younger boy's stint as a Clover Buddy (FFA for the grammar school bunch.) There's a plaster Santa, carefully painted with tempera paints by my husband when he was a cub scout, and a wooden angel that was a gift from the homeroom mother when I was an eighth grader.
The satin ribbons are untied and taken upstairs to be ironed; the cranberry and popcorn is slid off the thread into a bucket for the chickens; the strings of lights are pulled off and the tree is toppled and dragged out of the house. Only a slight fragrance of fir remains -- and we are safe from bad luck for another year.