A loud crash and breaking glass resounded from below as I rushed down the stairs. What did I see? My 12 foot Christmas tree flat on the floor. Tis the season to be jolly but this really broke the mood.
First things first, I picked up the 12 foot tree, by myself, and proceeded to experiment with physics and gravity. I twisted and turned and pushed until it stayed put against the banister. The day before there were ribbons and ornaments galore, now many were in pieces on the floor.
Cleaning up was a trip through time.
Picking up the pieces of glass ornaments was more than just a clean up job. Much like closet cleaning, this chore was a journey into Christmas' past. A wooden bi-plane, ceramic angel, Santa, decorated cookies and candies in pieces on the floor were all pieces of Christmas memories: precious babies, surprised and delighted by all the amazing miracles found in the early morning, especially the ornaments. Because in our family, Santa filled each stocking with a new ornament every year.
Instead of sadness over the broken ornaments, I feel happy.
I see that every year, decorating the tree is more than a holiday tradition. It's time travel. Our family history is on that tree. When each of my children left to make their own home, they received a box of ornaments that Santa had brought them each year. They took them to start decorating their own trees.
What's left is us.
When my husband got home with a new tree stand, we started over decorating the tree. Lights went back on. The angel was placed at the top. Ribbons were swirled once more from top to bottom. But the best part this time, was taking the time to see and remember each and every ornament. The collection of Winnie-the-Pooh characters I embroidered in felt one year while my children slept peacefully. Another collection featuring Nutcracker characters honoring my daughter's many years as part of the Oregon Ballet Theater's Nutcracker chorus. The dozens of Santas and Angels in fabric, wood, glass and ceramic that 'Santa' brought for my husband and I each Christmas.
Our life is right there on that tree. I'd forgotten, you see. But the universe reminded me with a crash. All those years aren't gone and forgotten, they're hanging right in front of me.