The time has come to say farewell to Christmas and all that entails. I enjoy the anticipation, the Advent season when we remember the arrival of the Christ child, born in humble surroundings to become a child like us.
I have a selection of classical CDs with my favourite Christmas carols. I am still awed by Handel’s Messiah. The Hallelujah Chorus stirs something within me. Mom used to turn the old radio up to full volume when the CBC played the triumphant music. It soared up the stairs and into the rafters of the old farmhouse.
On the farm we always had a live tree, a smaller spruce harvested from our own back acres. On our first Christmas in Peace River, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my husband and small son trekked into a wooded area and cut their own tree. They returned rosy-cheeked and cold but excited.
Luke helped unwrap all the treasured baubles and hung them unevenly throughout the fragrant branches. He watched with enthusiasm as brightly coloured parcels appeared under the tree.
Later, when the bare tree was tossed aside to a burning pile, my son was incensed. “We killed the tree?” He must have had visions of replanting. We have never cut a live tree again.
Now when I remove an ornament from my tree, then reassign it to its box and storage, I remember. As I place each item in its tissue wrapping, I recall all those past Christmas duties down through the years. On the farm and in many of my own homes there was storage under the eaves where we placed decorations and out of season bedding and clothing. Out of sight.
Back in Olds years later my crew were eager to decorate, with or without assistance. When it came to decluttering and rewrapping, I was on my own.
My mom used to save all the green wrappers from our Christmas oranges, smoothing them carefully. The papers enclosed many tiny globes, wooden items, delicate glass orbs and glittery objects. At my own house I found those wrappers to be too small and fragile. Before long I switched to heavier paper napkins or better yet, a roll of paper towel. These served for years but I have never been as cautious as mom was with her wrappers.
As my tree appears in all its glory, the papers lie in a growing mound, discarded in a heap. I gather those like an armful of scattered, dried leaves and stuff them in the storage tote.
When I brought the tote and Christmas tree box back to my suite last weekend, I retrieved the huge armful of papers and began the routine again. Rewrapping. Each item returned to its paper, gently stored away for another year.
As we rushed through Advent, did we miss the Christ of Christmas? When we stowed away the ornaments and glitter, did we set Him aside, out of sight? May our minds be focused on Christ throughout the year.Joyce Hoey is a longtime columnist with the Mountain View Albertan.