Oh, the bittersweet feeling of taking down the Christmas decorations... As the snow melts just in time for us to return to work and for life to return back to some semblance of normal, I look around my house and see a small pile of needles from our tree on the ground, traces of tinsel that has made its way onto the rug, pieces of a train track that has been tossed aside to make room for a dinosaur track that Santa brought, and gingerbread reindeer with candy embellishments that have been mostly eaten away. My eyes navigate to our Christmas tree, which has been the centerpiece of our living room for the past two months.

I take it all in one last time before committing to start clearing the ornaments from the tree. After a few have been packed away carefully, my daughter notices what I am doing and lets out a gasp. She runs over and begins pulling off her favorite ornaments from the bottom limbs and jamming them into the box.

This Christmas was a different one. I hate to say it, but I don’t think I embraced the beauty of the season as much as I have in the past. Maybe it was due to the pandemic. Or maybe it was the weight of what is going on in the world, or the abundance of snow, which kept me home for days... perhaps I miss my family in California. Most likely, it was a combination of reasons.

But as I held each ornament in my hand one last time before packing them away, I felt the joy and love that I should have been feeling all season long. I especially love this set of ornaments handmade by my sister-in-law. She gifted them to me last year, and I am pretty sure I cried when I opened them. The detail and love that she poured into making each piece was so touching, not to mention they are just breathtaking... I don’t know why I didn’t pay this much attention to them when I hung them on the tree this year...

After all of the ornaments were neatly tucked away, I admired the eye-catching tinsel hanging on the bare branches. So simple, but so beautiful... maybe I will be lucky to find a strand under the couch in July.

And finally, the lights. I’m pretty sure I drive my husband crazy with how I take them off the tree. I end up with a heaping pile of bulbs at my feet...

The tree, now bare, sits in a dimly lit room. Nothing special about it anymore. And I am reminded, as I head into the new year, to take the time to appreciate the moments, big and small, before they become memories.