Last week, we put away Christmas. You know what I mean. We packed red and green decorations and nativities and candles with a certain scent and lights and tinsel and wreaths into five gigantic plastic tubs and deposited them in the garage for another year. We hauled the Christmas tree out back, where it will wait until my husband chops it into small enough pieces to fit in the green recycling can. (Because, yes, we still buy a fresh tree every year.) We vacuumed up pine needles and bits of white Styrofoam and Kisses wrappers. And in a few hours, Christmas was put away.
A sense of melancholy has filled my heart. I waited to put everything away until my youngest went back to his last semester of school. I procrastinated until a week after the New Year’s morning we left my oldest at the airport in the longest security line I had ever seen. We laundered their sheets and towels and reorganized their rooms for the next time they come to stay. Sadly, the neighbors quit turning on their outside lights, and so my window candles were packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations.
How I miss their soft, gentle glow! I miss the warmth of the Christmas tree when we talk or watch a movie or read in the family room. I miss the colorful lights lining the streets as I drive around at night. I miss the nativities throughout the house reminding us of that precious night our Savior was born. I miss the Christmas cards on the fireplace mantle from friends we don’t see nearly often enough. I miss the feeling of a full house—the world is right because we are finally all together.
I always feel a little disappointment that the holiday, the holy day, has hurried past me, and I have not had a chance to affirm its significance to my life.
And yet . . . , I love the feeling of a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start. I like that I have time to myself to ponder, to write, and to create. I love the quiet, the possibilities. I like that I can walk on the treadmill with the music, or podcast, or television, blaring and not bother anyone. That I can take a long shower and not worry about the hot water.
Is this selfish of me? Have I brushed past the meaning of the holiday?
I look out my window at the feathery snowflakes fluttering to the ground, and covering the ugly brown drifts of leftover snow, reminding me that I can begin again. I can become as pure as freshly-fallen snow. Even as the snow turns to rain and washes the dirty snowpiles away, the green, green grass is exposed, dormant until spring. And that is the legacy of Christmas—light, warmth, family, creation, possibility, the chance to start again.