(author’s note- the sad, aforementioned, real tree of this post, looks nothing like the classy, elegant, stunt tree in this picture.)
So far this week I’ve had mediocre grocery store pizza for dinner and liked it. Begun telling my clients I am transitioning my practice and moving to Kauai in June. And decorated the worst, best Christmas tree ever.
At least “ever” as far as my usually coordinated and meticulous Trees of Christmas’s Past are concerned.
The pizza part is almost self-explanatory if I give you the information that it’s only 4 degrees here right now. And when it is 4 degrees, if somebody puts something hot and cheesy in front of your face, you tend to eat it and like it. Regardless of how humble the origins.
The client part is a relief. I feel like I’ve been holding this big secret inside of myself for months, and now, I’m finally letting it all out. Change is hard for people, but I’ve been surprised by how many have rolled with it so well so far and wish to continue our work via teletherapy.
And when it comes to the tree? Confession- here’s the thing: our tree has been up in our living room since last Christmas.
I never took it down.
It’s tall, thin and strung with white lights and- sandwiched among all our prodigious plants- the tree created a bright point during the extreme dark of last winter. I put away the festive ornaments, hung hearts on it after the holidays, and decided to call it a Valentine Tree and extend its welcome throughout the worst of the arctic black, with the intent of taking it down when the heart of winter receded and we began our return to the light.
And then my brother died and I stopped caring that we had a Christmas tree up in February.
And by the time I had begun to care about such things again as Christmas trees, we were rolling on into June. Though a feeling of care had slowly come back- the beginnings of my thaw after a long, lonely, icy season of grief- I wasn’t totally thawed and ready to move. It was enough to just feel the first flickers of warmth and connection to something outside of such potent loss.
June melted on into July and the 6 month mark of loss passed. Movement returned.
We road tripped around Alaska. Sat on the front porch in the summer sun amidst a potted garden of roses, daffodils and peonies. Walked the dogs in the dappled woods on the weekdays and climbed emerald mountains on the weekends. I wrote prolific poetry, pouring my pain and transformation into stanza and verse.
And somewhere in that season of bright bloom, I found myself again.
Except by now it’s almost August’s end, and as we’re heading into fall, I realize I might as well decorate the tree with faux fall foliage and let it be an autumnal tree.
And that testament to autumn is what I find myself staring at tonight, as I contemplate this ever present lit up tree that’s been in our living room for a year. As I look at the red leaves and fake cranberries, I have the stray thought that I should turn it into a proper Christmas tree once more. Bring it back to its origins for one last Christmas in Alaska.
Except I don’t feel like decorating for Christmas this year; for many reasons.
We will be gone in Germany almost the entire month of December so we won’t be here to enjoy it anyways. The big bin filled with decorations is way up high on a garage shelf and is difficult and arduous to reach. With 6 months to our move date, I am going through a period in life where I am less about holding onto and nesting and more about releasing and flying.
And mostly: I don’t want to pull out all those childhood decorations that have so many memories attached to them.
Not this year.
So instead, I gather up everything in the house that is bright. Mismatched and mishmashed: strings of pearls and shiny trinkets and sparkling butterflies and glittery hearts and sequined garland, and I tuck and trim and toss it haphazardly on the tree.
Ta-da! Best, worst Christmas tree ever.
Because here is the thing: change is hard.
Achingly- hurts in your bones, pains in your heart, makes you remember those unshed tears laying behind your eyes- hard. And this last year I’ve been forced to roll with it. Roll through it. Roll in it.
Roll into a new season of self.
I don’t know how things will look when Alaska’s melted into December’s melted into Germany’s melted into January’s melted into Spring’s melted into Moving’s melted into Kauai’s melted into New Home.
And we find ourselves living the change.
But I know for tonight that this tree has stood tall and stood by and stood witness for the ruin and rebirth of this past year. And it deserves the honor, gaudy though it may be, of glittering with gleaming sparkle and brazen light.
Shining strong. For one last Christmas.