A while back I mentioned that Paul and I routinely argue over how to put on shoes. Is it sock, shoe, sock, shoe or sock, sock, shoe, shoe? That’s one disagreement, but few things are as hotly contested by people everywhere as the debate over when to take the Christmas tree down. Strong feelings probably popped up just reading that first sentence. Everybody seems to have an opinion.
For our SAT school, students come to our house for their lessons, and because of that, I have always insisted that the decorations come down on January 1st. I say, “We can’t possibly leave them up. What about the kids?” Never mind the fact that the kids did just fine coming in for two or three weeks prior to Christmas with the tree and all the decorations up. However, we now take a break from teaching in January so my excuse is gone.
Now that there is a crack in the foundation of my reasoning, Paul and I argue about it. I would still like January 1st. The whole: new year, new start. Paul would like to leave the tree up year round but is willing to compromise and take the it down before Easter. You think I’m joking. We seem to have come to a tentative peace agreement. All of the decorations can come down January 1st except the tree. It can stay up till somewhere between January 10 and 15th. He may not have made out as well in the negotiations as I did.
We both think we’re right and have a hard time seeing the other’s point of view. Have you ever been so stuck in your way of thinking or choice of paths that you just assume that’s the only way? Years ago I was home from school for the summer and working at a photography shop. One of the other employees asked me why I was going to college.
It stopped me dead in my tracks. Completely flummoxed. I had never even thought of any other option, and it never occurred to me to look at alternatives. Yesterday the same thing happened.
I was at lunch with a couple of friends, and we were all talking about our holidays when one of them mentioned that the Markses do Christmas with a lot of nostalgia and sentimentality. It stopped me in my tracks again, because not only was she very right, but it never entered my mind that there were other ways to do it.
Madi’s boyfriend’s family went to Cancun for Christmas, and while they had a lovely time, I was horrified at the thought of being not only without a tree, but without OUR tree, without Johnny Mathis and Robert Goulet singing in every room, without the same recipe for turkey stuffing that has been handed down for years along with all the same old favorite dishes.
This year the whole season has gone by in a blur. I don’t feel like I ever got to slow down and enjoy it the way I wanted to. So, even though a part of me is ready to take the decorations down, a bigger part of me is ready to sit down, and finally soak up the joy of Christmas the way I want to, the way we used to. I brought the boxes down, ready to begin but never got any farther. I ended up sitting and gazing at the tree with its ornaments that each hold a tender spot in my heart.
A big healthy dose of nostalgia might be just what the doctor ordered.