Is there a sadder annual chore than taking down the Christmas tree?
When we trim the tree, there’s such hope. Not only “hope” in the traditional Advent kind of way. But hope for the season. That all the presents will be perfect. That all the children will be happy all the time, even on long car rides. That everyone will get along. That all of the food will be ready at the same time. That you will take advantage of the long university break and work out every day and clean closets and figure out how to use an iPod. That your sister will make apple pie for New Year’s dinner. (Never mind.)
Actually, I usually start the holiday season with fairly realistic expectations. I know that, like most things, there will be good and there will be not-so-good. That nothing is perfect. That much of how it all turns out will be out of my control. (Imagine that, something being out of my control.) But somewhere along the way, I get sucked into the Christmas vortex. My expectations rise.
And, as usually happens in life, there was good and there was so-so and there was not so good.
Not every gift was a delight. Some will never be played with and will be taken to Goodwill as part of next year’s pre-Christmas toy purge. (And one or two didn’t even make it through Christmas morning without a tiny-but-important piece being lost.)
Feelings were hurt.
Situations were uncomfortable.
People got tired and cranky. (Mostly me.)
Kids got bored and crabby and threw french fries at each other in the car.
But there was lots of good as well. Laughter with family and good friends. Long days with no plans and no goals. Cookies and carrots that magically disappeared after Christmas-eve bedtime, much to a 4-year-old’s amazement. Presents that delighted. Reconnections with people I don’t see very often.
And now it is over. The tree comes down and the decorations go back into storage. Until they come out again, bringing with them the hope of next holiday season.
When everything will be perfect.