Years ago, there were often times I took the tree down the day after Christmas. In full disclosure, there have been some years in which I looked at the tree, day after day, and looked forward to getting rid of it, long before Christmas morning even arrived. But for a while now, I haven’t been inclined to rush things so much. There was even one year, having cut down our own tree, that we kept it up, with just the lights on, until February first. This year, while I like the idea to de-clutter and simplify, clean out drawers and closets, there is something about the New Year’s resolve with all its goals and affirmations and stridency, that just sounds tiresome. So, even though pine needles have replaced gifts under the tree, and Christmas tree china clutters my table and kitchen, I’m on pause until I actually need to start the new year.
As a matter of fact, after being at Joy’s family cabin in the woods on Christmas Day, I came home, seriously thinking, before the new year arrives, of decorating one of the big trees at the edge of the lake, in tiny colored lights. Rich, who often states that he just wants to get through the holidays, somehow managed to throw five strands of colored lights on a tall Sub-alpine Fir, in the middle of their Lodgepole Pine forest, down the hill off the back deck. We would look out the dark windows and see it glow, alone, amidst all the other trees. In the night, as I slept up in the loft and listened to the wind howl and heard the trees sway, I would look out the window to make sure it was still there, a solitary beacon of good cheer. And, adding to this unexpected holiday decor, he had set up a generator down by the river, and if you wanted to make the trek down the icy hill, he would turn on the dainty colored lights, strung across three small trees, next to the water. I did that, and while Duncan lay face down on the ice, staring at a kaleidoscope of ice crystals deep in the river, Rich and I talked about the way the snow changed the primary colors on the trees into purples and oranges. A little Christmas magic.
The sunny arrival back at home was a nice surprise after all the Christmas snows. “Deep Arctic air will slam into western Montana”, goes the forecast, bringing fresh snow for the start of the new year. I suspect it will snap me into a forward-looking gear and New Year’s Day is likely to be a good one to put Santa Claus away, sweep out the needles, as well as the corners of my mind, which could use some clearing out of their own, to make room for the fresh start of a new year.