Monday, January 5, 2015

For the Record: The Twenty Fourteen Winter Holidays Part III To Tree or Not To Tree

For the Record:
The Twenty Fourteen Winter Holidays
Part III
Peace and Hope

You know, for the past several years I have not exactly been in the mood…for anything actually.  
But in particular the holidays…any holiday.  But specifically, the Winter Holidays. 
For the past several years, each time I would get a holiday greeting card in the mail, I would sigh and think about how I just didn’t have the energy to send out cards.  I wasn’t in the mood.  
For the past several years, around about sometime after Thanksgiving, I would start mentioning to everyone that ,”I am NOT decorating AND for sure I am NOT putting up a tree this year.”  
For the past several years though, I would eventually put the tree up.  One year I decided to get a  white tree. Perhaps, I thought,  a silly, whimsical, white, tree would make things different and easier.  It didn’t.
I have a collection of Hallmark ornaments, ornaments that the kids have given me over the years, ornaments that I have hand crafted, odds and ends ornaments that I would pick up here or there.   
For the past several years,  the boxes of decorations seemed to get heavier and more difficult to haul down from the garage shelves.  It took more energy to carry them into the house.  One year I fell off the ladder and thought to myself, “of course you fell.”   
For the past several years, as I took the ornaments out of the cartons, one by one,  I would look at each of them before hanging them on the tree.  As the boxes emptied and got lighter, my heart became heavier,  bearing the load of  melancholic memories.
I have a box that I keep my Christmas cards and Christmas card list in.  It’s stored on a shelf in the spare bedroom closet. 
For the past several years, I would think about sending out cards, but then I would think ,“Oh well it’s too much trouble to get the box down.”  And anyway, by the time I thought about sending out cards, it was probably already too late.
Then there was this year.  For many weeks before the Winter Holidays, I attended and participated in a bereavement group.  Naturally, a major topic and concern was how we were going to be able to “get through” the holidays.  Some of us, like me, were “just not in the mood”.  We couldn’t face writing out cards, decorating the house or putting up the tree. 
But then there were the others.   They wanted to do all of it.  They loved every part of the holidays, the music, the baking, the gatherings and especially the decorations.  
I was curious. So I asked  Why was it different for them?  
“I like to have my things around me because they’re pretty,” one told me.   
“I love to be creative,” said another. 
Someone else revealed that “Baking my grandma’s recipes makes me think of her.”  
“I appreciate the beauty of all it.”  They all nodded at each other in agreement. 
At that moment it was as if the fog that had surrounded me for the past several years lifted and I could suddenly see more clearly.   
As I drove home from the meeting that afternoon, I realized that I could change the way I viewed the holidays.  
After all, I like pretty things.  I can be creative.  
This year, as the cards stated to arrive in the mail, I thought about each one of the senders.  Those loved ones who had always been there for me.  I realized that I wanted them to know that I was thinking about them too. 
So, I dragged a chair over to the closet, reached in and pulled the box down.  When I looked through the book that I keep the card list in, I was astonished to see that I had not sent any cards since 2010.
Even though it was the Monday before Christmas, I sat and wrote out our cards.  I wished each recipient a “Peaceful Holiday and a Hope Filled New Year.”
This year the boxes that the decorations were stored in didn’t seem as heavy as they did in the past several years.  I easily lifted them off the shelves and carried them into the house with little effort.  
This year as I took the ornaments out of the cartons, one by one,  I looked at each of them before hanging them on the tree.  As the boxes emptied, my heart lightened with fond memories of all the years past. 
This Year’s Favorite Ornament 


  1. How wonderful. It can be hard, but it's nice to see some of the heaviness lifting. And next year will be even better!

    1. Thanks, Liz. Having the support of my group was helpful.

  2. I love this post. A hope filled New Year to you :-)

  3. That was good to send out the cards and to put up the tree. I am glad you shared this because I have struggled every year since my mom died 12 days before Christmas in 2006 to get into the holiday spirit so to speak. Losing a parent is tough, losing a child is tougher and harder. You give me hope that next year I'll try to be more positive with preparing for the holiday and find joy in the beauty of the decorations, cards, etc.


    1. I lost my mom in 2009. I know how you feel. I was amazed that by adjusting my view a tiny bit made such a difference.

  4. Good for you. I decorated our rubber tree plant for something different.

  5. I had that experience for a few years when our kids were first grown and gone. One year I decorated the tree with all the old ornaments and I was so sad I took them all back off and asked my husband to take the tree outside.

    Now I have a small fake tree and it is fine.

  6. Perhaps the empty nest was/is part of the issue I was having too. I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes sense.