Putting it to Bed

baby jesus in manger

Today, we finally took Christmas down.  And before Epiphany, too!  No need to thank me.

It’s always a little bittersweet, like packing up memories along with the decorations.  I started a couple of days ago by taking down the Christmas cards.  I figured if I did a little bit each day it would seem less overwhelming.  Anyone else feel like this?  While I was at kettlebells class, Jonathon took the lights off and dumped the tree in the front yard.  Our garbage service will collect it in a week or so.  For now, it seems a little sad.  We loved you well, O Tannenbaum. You lit up our lives for at least 3 weeks.  Thank you!

I put the ornaments away last night.  Usually, I muster the troops for this task.  We have so many ornaments and several pairs of (rolling) eyes make the work more streamlined.  This year, I did it alone.  I didn’t feel like dealing with the usual reluctance from small(ish) fry about putting things away and picking up after ourselves.  Some of the ornaments on the tree are from my childhood.  Some are from Jonathon’s childhood.  Some we made, some the kids made and the rest are Betty Boop.  Kidding!

Today I put away the stocking holders, metal in the shape of a star and a snowman, and ceramic in the shape of a snowman and a gingerbread girl.  I scooped up a couple stray ornaments and popped them back in their Tupperware nest.  No, I do not organize my ornaments by color, shape, size or owner.  I like to be surprised every year when we break into the boxes.  “Hey, I forgot we had this!” They all go higgledy-piggledy into the box, minus the ones Ruby broke.  She thinks they’re toys and is just now realizing ornaments have limited capabilities.  The fragile ones get packed securely in paper, but other than that, I try to treat each of them the same, so nobody gets a big head.  Probably I’ve watched too much “Toy Story”.

I gathered the lights and coiled them away.  I scooped up the pine cone Christmas tree my grandmother, Dad’s mom, crafted for me, her first grandchild.  It’s falling apart, ornaments and pinecones jutting out every which way from its cone-shaped frame.  Our old cat, Rita, would jump up on the table and stealthily pull out the figurines with her teeth and slink away.  Bad cat!  But I still love it.

Lastly, I put away the Nativity.  We actually have 3 nativity sets. I think.  One, our very first, we got in the first year of our marriage as a gift from my mom.  All the people in it have red hair of different shades – even the angel.  Who knows?  It could’ve happened.  The second one I got from my mentor from when I sold Avon.  It was a very brief period while we lived in Reedsport and I discovered 1) I hate selling door-to-door, and 2) women in their 80s don’t wear cosmetics, nor should they feel they have to.  The set is 30 pieces, all large, white alabaster-like cast pieces.  Putting it all out is a bit much; we haven’t the flat space.  However, the first family all fits in one box:  Joseph, stooping with his staff over the manger, Mary kneeling, and The Babe in his crib.  Jesus and crib are all molded from one piece.  I don’t think that’s how it *really* was, but it saves the trouble of Jesus getting lost.

Our last set is from Kenya, a gift from Jonathon’s parents from their stint teaching at a university in Kenya.  The pieces are carved painted wood.  The animals are a donkey and an ox.  Mary, Joseph and the wisemen (surely heads of tribes) are all Africans.  The tree is one you’d find on the plains of Africa – acacia, I believe.

Each of the Kenyan nativity pieces fit into a single cardboard box with a hinged lid.  I started putting them away and realized one piece was missing:  the Christ child.  Ruby, intrigued by the feel and color of the pieces,  took them and made up stories with them in another room.  I told her awhile ago I needed them back so they didn’t get lost and we could unpack them again next Christmas.

She missed one.

I started rooting around in her art area, which is always covered with stuff.  I didn’t find Jesus under the lamp or the table.  I looked in the heating vent.  Not there.  I found him under the chair, lying face-up.  It was as if he was waiting to be found.  Chuckling, I tucked him into his styrofoam slot and closed the box.

I am reminded that as we close up shop on the Christmas season, we can’t close up shop on goodwill to men. We can’t forget Jesus.  His peace remains.  We must remember The Babe, even as we move on into winter.  His arms are still open to anyone who will come.  The Babe still lives in our hearts.


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