Why I Can’t Take Down My Christmas Tree

(A momentary break from my blog journey)

I can’t bear to take down my Christmas tree and this fact consumes my thoughts today. I can’t do it. I still need it. But why? Usually I’m twitching to take it down as soon Christmas is over, in agreement with the adage: “Nothing is as over as Christmas when it’s over.”

Yet this year, I keep putting it off. I told myself and my family it was because of Covid and isolation; that the lights and colors still bring me joy in the darkness, so why not leave it up a little longer? 

But it occurs to me that I cling to this particular tree for a different reason: It is because I lost my dear, sweet Mom to Covid last month. This Christmas tree and this loss create for me a memory that I can’t let go, as if in some way it will mean letting part of her go, too.

It was 1:33 a.m on Monday, December 7th when I got the call from her nursing facility. Oddly enough, only moments before, I’d startled awake and looked around the bedroom and thought to myself, Wow, the house is so quietEverything is so quiet. Then the quiet was interrupted by the phone. And I knew.

I crept downstairs alone and turned on the Christmas tree lights, soft and beautiful in the dark, quiet house. Then I watched a classic holiday movie filmed when my mother was a young woman: It’s A Wonderful Life. Unable to bear the Uncle-Billy-loses-the money part, I fast-forwarded to Clarence, the angel. In those late night, wee-hour moments, I felt like I was holding Mom with me in the muted Christmas-tree lights and that old, familiar black-and-white movie. 

And now long past Epiphany, the usual tree-dismantling day, I keep insisting we don’t need to take the tree down, not yet. Sure, it is dry and drooping and sheds copious needles every day, but for me, its magnificence and solace are undiminished. 

The sight of this tree cradles me in a place where Mom is still with me. I know full well the tree is dead and eventually we must remove its decorations and red bows and garlands and lights; that we will have to haul it out back and sweep up the needles in its wake and move the furniture back where it belongs. I know that although I can rationalize for now that the Christmas tree should remain lit and glorious in its corner, this time too will pass.  

Soon I will need to make room in that corner and in my heart for the passage of time, because there is no way to deny its momentum. I need to accept the future, to roll forward with it into new seasons. It is a new year in a new time, the beginning of the first of everything I will now face without a mother. 

But for now, may I please take just a little more time? The tree is so lovely, still. See? The nights are so very quiet. And I miss my mother.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Why I Can’t Take Down My Christmas Tree

  1. Lauralyn Theodore

    Tears. . . and love

  2. Perry Allison

    oh Callie.. what a bittersweet post. I’m sure you miss your Mom. I still have our trees up as well. We have one on our porch that we will leave up until the end of winter. We have another in our living room that is fake. Gasp! We realized a while ago that Michael and I were both having an allergic reaction to a real tree and decided to get a fake one. It’s still lovely and I don’t want to take it down either. The other morning I woke up to a singularly gray and dreary day. It was kind of snowing, kind of raining, it was nasty. The first thing I did was turn on the christmas lights that are hung around the house, including on the tree. It somehow brightened a dreary day. So I say leave that tree up as long as you want to. Let it help you keep your dear sweet Mom in your heart for as long as you can. It won’t be too long before the birds will be chirping and the flowers will be popping out of the ground. I send you love!

  3. Katherine A. Doroski

    I had the exact feeling Cal when it was time to take down our tree. For whatever reason this year the lights and ornaments were very comforting and uplifting. We still have the colored lights around the front door and I have decided I’m leaving those us until whenever! Enjoy the comfort the tree brings you…you’ll know when it’s right and ready to take it down. Much love!

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