That’s not just a Christmas tree you see

It took me a long time to realize my Christmas tree was invisible.

I would spend hours clearing space by the front window, putting away the pictures and non-seasonal objects, retrieving boxes from the garage, then sorting through countless ornaments collected over the years . . .

IMG_8538I’d stop to remember where I got that tiny flamingo with the goofy grin and holiday tie, the Santa posed like a rodeo rider on the back of a dolphin. I’d be thrilled when I opened the box containing construction-paper Rudolph, his crooked mouth penned by a fidgety preschooler. (Rudolph always gets the best spot on the tree.)

Smiling, I would carefully unwrap the crooked candle made of wire and plastic beads, and choke up every time at the tiny stocking labelled “FNU” (FBI-speak for “First Name Unknown”).

I’m one of those people who doesn’t buy boxes of glass balls to fill their tree. Every ornament has a special meaning or memory attached to it. I space them out so each one is properly visible and as I do, I let my mind drift back to when I shared this activity with ones now in Heaven, or those now just too busy.

It’s usually an entire afternoon of nostalgia and sentimentality, and for what? Despite its prominent placement in my front window, no one sees this tree.

Oh, people come over during the holidays and remark that the tree is beautiful. And it is. It’s a colorful, balanced, festive holiday decoration like all the other trees you see on Facebook or in homes you visit during the holidays.

But it’s so much more than “just” a Christmas decoration. It’s a very personal compilation of memories and history, a poignant stroll down memory lane in the company of people and places from my past. True, it’s time-consuming and can be a bit exhausting, but for me, it’s a welcome respite in the throes of a frenetic season. It heals my heart a little.

I’m not offended that you don’t see all this about my tree. I don’t see it about yours, either, and that’s okay.

Some things just can’t be shared (even on social media) . . . they have to be lived.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

8 thoughts on “That’s not just a Christmas tree you see”

  1. This piece was beautiful. I have learned to change up my holidays. I still have all those decorations but they remain packed in their box. Maybe one day I will open it. I admire that you do it every year.

  2. Well, you’ve pushed me over the line. I could not decide whether to get a tree this year or not, but now I want to start digging through my boxes of Christmas history. Thanks!

    Made me laugh – when I worked for the CIA, my roommate got a puppy and we couldn’t think of a good name for her. I started calling her FNU, and it stuck and became her name.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Oh my, I laughed out loud about the puppy named FNU. So glad you understand! Merry Christmas to you – and do go through that very personal process of remembering and celebrating. It’s worth it. Thanks for commenting!

    1. I enjoy choosing how I will observe the holidays and how I will let go of things that aren’t necessary or enjoyable any more. Takes a lot of stress out of the equation! And I’ve downsized my Christmas tree to one about half the size of its predecessor. Much more manageable ~

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