… last night, I’m guessing. It’s part of the routine as we prepare for the return to work and school, and the return of routine after the festive break.
Time it was to undress the Christmas tree. It takes hours at the Towers, and it’s a sad time too. At the end of it the house looks bare, devoid of colour. Of course it’s neither, but there is something missing.
The tree is in the garden now, battered by winds and by rain. I think it’s bare of decoration, though it has barely shed a needle yet. It was a magnificent tree this time, full, bushy and bright, and very, very tree-shaped, in that perfect way children have of drawing them, as you always seek but rarely find. It’s probably been a good even growing period, so that there were no bare and straggly parts. But it looked superb, while it lasted, right to the end.
And the end came, as it had to. The sad part is in carefully wrapping up all the little baubles, singly, individually for the most part. For these are memories and they are stored away to come flooding back another day. There are mementoes from trips here and there; reminders of events that are never forgotten; and surprises too.
For the first time I can recall we also took off tree chocolates, and mini-crackers. Usually both get decimated, typically during the Boxing Day Bash. But they’re virtually complete; probably a sign that there’s been too much choccy in the house anyway.
So can we look forward to doing it all over again? No, not the shopping, the angst, the spending and all the extravagances; just unwrapping the treasures, and opening up the memories. The bauble from Siena’s Palio is safely packed away; and the bell from St Petersburg. The hand-painted eggs from Budapest survived again, and the one remaining Krakow globe.
We have tat on the tree too, but they all take us back to other times and other places. There’s a delft-effect windmill, and cartoon characters having an eyeful of the tower in France. And there are wedding favours from friends rarely seen, or simple sets of danglies from the first trees of the household. Then came The Urchins’ First Festive stuff, and their hand-made ones, drawings from school, shaped and threaded. Precious.
There are birds on the tree as well, just a couple of robins, oh and puffins too, and a magnificent wolf. I remember Granny having a couple of bright budgies in years gone by, gone now but far from forgotten.
Later today, after the school bus arrives, the nativity scene will be packed away. I’ve handed that on to The Urchins to look after now, just as I did when it was, I’m told, that as a three year old it was all I wanted from Santa. So it’s survived a few festives thus far, and been through a few hands. But it’s good for more yet.
And after another year has flown past, quicker than ever before, we’ll unwrap the baubles and the lights and everything else once again. The lights may not work, but the memories will. There might even be new ones to add. Meanwhile, time to eat those neglected chocolates.