Today is Epiphany and I have taken all the ornaments off the tree. Well, I think I have. It’s dark now and I won’t swear that I got them all until I can scour the tree in daylight. I hate to see the tree go, but I do enjoy de-decorating it. When I’m decorating it, I have to decide where to put each ornament as I go along. When I’m de-decorating it, I have assigned spaces for all of them. Most of them go in boxes. My favorites are the ones that have individual boxes with pictures on them. There’s no question about what goes inside that type of box. The only question is where to look for it on the tree.

I turn on all the room lights and all the tree lights and it’s still challenging to find all the ornaments. I have notes on my boxes about what I should be looking for, because sometimes there are changes. The biggest change was in 2009, when our tree fell over. Twice. We didn’t lose much the first time because my grandson was there and broke the tree’s fall, but the second time there was quite a bit of damage. I have one box that holds a dozen fragile glass ornaments. There are only six left. I wrote a note on the top of the box so I won’t forget how many to search for. I fill in the extra indentations with small things that didn’t have boxes before the great tree disaster of 2009. One indentation is full of the little metal tops that came from the broken ornaments. I’m sure they’ll come in handy some day.

I don’t buy fragile glass ornaments any more. I do like to add something new every year, even though we already have so many ornaments, it’s hard to fit them all on the tree. This year, we bought an ornament to commemorate our trip out West. We picked it up at a gift shop near the Grand Canyon and it’s a sturdy metal Kokopeli, with wire and stone accents. Every time we put it on our Christmas tree, we will remember that trip and the adventures we had, exploring deserts and climbing scary ladders and hiking on the Bright Angel Trail.

I have an eclectic Christmas tree. It’s full of memories but it would never win any beauty contests. I remember visiting my high society aunt one Christmas season and seeing her fashionable tree. It was in her formal living room and it was covered in matching ornaments, plastic “sugarplum” characters that were in style that year. I thought it was pretty, but I couldn’t imagine having a tree with no memories on it. I have one of those sugarplum things in my collection now. One. It goes on my tree every year and it reminds me of my aunt, who probably got rid of all her sugarplums as soon as Christmas was over so she could have a new theme the next year.

I will never have a stylish Christmas tree. There are some pretty raggedy things on my tree every year. After my mother died, we found, among her treasures, some ornaments I had made as a child out of egg cartons and glitter. She had wrapped them as carefully as if they were made of blown glass. I do the same thing now when I take them off my own tree. I admired my successful aunt but I was never like her. I am like her younger sister, my mother, who chose sentiment over style, every single time.



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