Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of the Year

Mindful, as always, of my grandmother's injunction that the Christmas tree must go out the door before the the New Year comes in, I'll spend today breaking up Christmas.

All the little Christmas tschotchkes will be hunted down from their various perches and assembled on the dining table to be put into boxes.

Disassembling the tree is a slow but pleasant task, first the candy canes, crocheted snowflakes, tin icicles, red bows -- all the 'bulk' ornaments. Then the fragile glass ornaments, the many one-of-a-kind ornaments, and last, the stuffed ornaments -- reminders of long gone days with toddlers in the house.

Next to last is the popcorn and cranberry string. I'll slide the popcorn and cranberries off the thread and into a bucket for the chickens -- who will devour the popcorn and ignore the cranberries. Last of all, the lights come off and John drags the tree outside to a final resting place somewhere in the woods.

The Santas and the two Nativity scenes in the corner cupboard get put away. The spare grouping below includes a Holy Family of delicately carved and painted wood. I gave them to my grandmother many years ago and they came back to me on her death. There was a wonderful little lamb as part of the scene but he disappeared a few years ago. (I suspect William.)

The canopy over Baby Jesus (made from the wire topper for a champagne bottle) was put there a while back by Justin and I can't make myself remove it. The lovely little angel, probably from the same Italian workshop as the other figures, was a gift this year. And yes, that's a Swedish Yule horse peeking out from the background. Better than the year the boys added Darth Vader and Han Solo to the Nativity.

Finally, the Christmas cards come off the shelves and all the increasingly dry greenery (FIRE HAZARD! I think, whenever we leave the house) will go to join the Christmas tree.

We leave the lights up though, to brighten the dark days of January.

Throughout this last day of 2008, I'll be be thinking of the changes behind us and the challenges ahead, the sadness of saying goodbye to old friends and the joy of all the new acquaintances I've made -- many right here.

It'll be interesting to see what 2009 has in store.
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Susan M. Bell said...

Don't know about your area, but up here, 2008 is leaving very loudly. The wind is gusting like crazy, and I can hear it rushing through the trees constantly. Days like this, I wish my kitty Muffin was willing to come inside. I know how much she hates the wind.

Anonymous said...

I "did the deed" yesterday, systematically defrocking the tree, taking down the garlands, the cards, replacing holiday plates with our regular crockery. Interesting how solitary this ceremony is. There is no champagne, Christmas music or helping hands to carefully pack away a lifetime of memories. For me it is a time of reflection and private smiles as I linger over special ornaments,stockings and holiday nick knacks. The cycle is complete!

Ana - The Writer Today said...

I love to put up the Christmas decorations, lights, etc. but I do not like taking them down. The house looks so festive with everything and so plain afterwards. I do not take anything down until after Three Kings Day which is January 6th. I will be doing this task alone since I had helping hands to put up that do not want to help to put down. I enjoy the holiday season, it is a time to reflect, catch up with family/friends and make new goals (that hopefully you will keep) for the new year.

Vicki Lane said...

Susan, yep, the trees are swaying and the clouds are rushing across the sky. A fitting accompaniment to the year's exit.

I love how traditions differ, when it comes to the tree -- lots of folks put it up right after Thanksgiving but take it down the day after Christmas or even Christmas afternoon.

Interesting how for so many of us the undecorating is solitary and contemplative -- maybe even a little bittersweet. I really enjoy it, but I have the luxury of a whole day to do it in.

January 6 is also Old Christmas Day and I'll be posting about it.

Anonymous said...

I packed it all away Saturday, encouraged by the spring-like weather. I always feel like I can breathe more deeply when the house returns to normal.

'08 is certainly leaving here with a windy flourish as well. Hope it doesn't take our shingles with it!

Happy New Year!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

My mother always held to this tradition. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. Our tree was small this year, so taking it away didn't seem to matter so much. The scouring wind today seems appropriate for New Year's Eve, blowing in the new, making the red on the outdoor thermometer drop, causing me to get in a bread-making mood, a long-ago mood that I'm glad has come back, at least for a little while. Now, tonight, I hope people read some good poetry and toast 2009 with the renewal that art can bring.

Anonymous said...

Our tree will come down this weekend as we're still celebrating. We have Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve, then my husband Joe and I celebrate on Christmas day. We're getting together with the kids and grandkids tomorrow as they have three sets of grandparents to spend time--we take the 'swing shift.' Spreads our celebrations across a couple weeks which is fun. The grandsons, ages 7 and 10 go to the tree farm and help us cut down the tree and decorate it, but taking it down will be a solitary and contemplative activity. The cycle of the year turns yet again...

Happy New Year!

Lynne from Ga.

Anonymous said...

Vicki, a Nativity scene is always better with Han Solo in it.

Pat in east TN said...

Today was our day too to untrim and pack everything away. It seemed quite sad with little conversation as the winds roared around the house. The living room does seem bigger now, although everything looks quite bare. Mixed emotions, for sure.


Vicki Lane said...

Well, we got the tree out the door and most of the external Christmas red and green replaced with blue and yellow. The dining table is still covered with ornaments from the tree, waiting to be packed away -- I got half done and decided to finish tomorrow. The guys are watching Carolina basketball and, unlike last year, we all will be awake to drink champagne at midnight. (Last year at 10:30 we were yawning and decided it was midnight somewhere, drank our champagne, and went to bed.)

Happy New Year, you all!!! You've become a special part of my life.

Anonymous said...

The north wind of yesterday blew in a morning temperature of 11degrees. It's on mornings like this that I'm glad the walk up to the studio is so steep that it warms me up, no matter how cold the air.

Warm wishes for the new year to all!

Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Deana, Happy New Year and best wishes for every success with your glass and all other endeavors!