We’re three days into 2016 now, and if you’re like me, you’ve already taken down and put back into storage your Christmas/holiday decorations (tree, ornaments, stockings, snowmen, etc.). I usually take my decorations down on New Year’s Day, a nice way to keep sort-of-busy while switching back-and-forth between college football and outdoor hockey. (Yeah, I’m a sports nut.) But since I was busy all day on January 1, I actually put away the decorations Saturday night.
A few things about taking down the tree I noticed on Saturday, thoughts that perhaps you’ve noticed as well when you put away your own decorations: First, no matter how sure you’ve taken down every single ornament from the tree, there always seems to be at least one snowflake or bobble still hanging down a hidden branch of the tree. To help alleviate that, I always make sure I never box up and stow away my decorations before the tree is put away.
Speaking of boxing up and stowing away the decorations, another thing that’s somewhat hard is arranging all the ornaments into the proper boxes. I have a couple of large bins (66-quart size) for my larger decorations, including beaded tinsel, table-sized snowmen, and larger store-bought ornaments I still have the boxes for. Smaller, handmade ornaments go in a series of small caddies. The hard part is arranging everything so that they can all fit — and fit snugly — into the proper boxes, enough so that I don’t have to go to Target and buy an extra box. Tissue paper or bubble wrap comes in handy, and if I need more protection for the ornaments, I can re-use plastic shopping bags from the store that I haven’t recycled yet.
Of course, removing the ornaments from tree are a piece of cake compared to disassembling the tree itself. As I noted last month, I bought a new (and, yes, artificial) tree over Thanksgiving weekend. While putting it together the first time was relatively easy (it helped that the branches are fixed to the “trunk”), remembering where the sections separated was tricky. Much trickier was putting the sections back into the very narrow box they came in. While the branches can fold down, I’m unable to tie them into place effectively, meaning the box bulges open. At least I have a few bungee cords that can keep the box shut and in place — at least until I can find a more effective way to keep it shut.
Once the tree is gone and the decorations are back in the storage closet, I’m left with a barren spot where the tree once stood. And that’s when it hits me: The apartment now has an empty feeling. The holiday charm that the tree and the ornaments and the decorations provided between Thanksgiving weekend and New Year’s Day have vanished. The holiday happiness is but a pleasant memory, and now I’m inside a space that’s rather familiar yet feels so totally different. And I’m left to wonder… well…
It’s that thought of… well, the post-holiday unknown that really hits me at the beginning of January. It’s all that uncertainty that comes with the “Now what?” It’s that realization that, “Hey, the holidays turned out to be not half-bad at all; but now, we have to withstand the rest of this winter. And beyond.” I imagine this hits most of you at this time as well. For sure, none of us will know all of what the new year will bring us until, well, next Christmas season. And for many of us, most of what lies ahead in the next 365 days (well, 366 days, since 2016 is a leap year) might not match the sustained (if, for some, manufactured) joy that Christmastime (or whatever holiday you celebrate) usually brings.
But, as a truly enlightened expert on the possibilities of the future — one Emmett L. Brown, Ph.D. — once said, the future is ours to make of it what we will. Hopefully, as we all muddle through 2016 somehow, all our futures will be bright and awesome enough so that when next Thanksgiving, Christmas, et. al. comes around, it will be just a cherry on the top of a truly joyful year, not just the most wonderful time of the whole year.
Here’s hoping all of you will have a wonderful — and truly happy — 2016.