I’m the only one invited to the untrimming party. Soon Joni Mitchell’s Blue is blasting from the speakers as I bring up boxes from the garage and get to work dismantling Christmas.
But I’m not blue at all. I love taking apart the wooden train set and stowing away the brightly painted nutcrackers. I scrape melted wax from the mantel and toss withered cedar boughs into the fireplace. Scummy vases once overflowing with holly and white orchids get a good scrubbing.
Then I untrim the tree, from hand-blown glass balls to hand-crafted macaroni angels. It’s like unearthing a time capsule. Here is the rocking horse era, followed by the rise of the snowmen. Family pets are honored by an abundance of dog and cat angels. Crazily misshapen Santas record the preschool years, while “Baby’s First Christmas” bears round out the collection.
My favorite part is tossing the denuded tree off the balcony. Such a satisfying crash! Pine needles blanket the asphalt below, but I don’t sweep them up; the wind and rain will take care of the mess. This act of purposeful sloth thrills me as much as tearing out spent petunias from the garden at the end of the summer. Annuals and Christmas trees are supposed to wither and die, then get tossed. Unlike the perpetual nurturing demanded by children, pets, perennials, and husbands, limited care for ephemeral glory is the only requirement.
After all, it’s the dismantling that brings about the restored order and hope of the new year.