I took down all the Christmas decorations yesterday. The only thing still standing is the tree (now naked) which I'll have to ask My Beloved to help me carry downstairs. It's a brute.
This is the first year in my entire life that I haven't resisted taking down the decorations. When I was a kid I'd plead with my Mom and Dad to leave everything up just one more day and I never really outgrew that tendency to mourn the passing of Christmas or the urge to prolong it for as long as someone would let me.
Until this year.
I was a pretty happy camper as I put everything back in the boxes and bags they came out of in early December. I was wistful, I suppose, but mostly happy to be back to "ordinary time."
As I stuffed stockings, elves, bows and balls back in their respective off-season homes I briefly wondered what our lives might be like the next time they see the light of day. Will we have another baby? Will I be pregnant? Will we be in the process of adopting? Will we be resigned to being childless?
It's scary to have so many unanswered questions. And the longer I live, the longer that list of questions gets, unfortunately.
I never dreamed that we wouldn't have Thomas with us when I put those same decorations away last year, so what on earth will life be like when I put them away next year?
I stumbled across a card friends of ours sent us last year in the midst of my packing away. It was a beautiful card with a really sweet note written inside. They talked about how exciting this Christmas must be for us (with Thomas less than three months from being born) and how much fun next Christmas would be. Then they said every Christmas after that would be more special than the last. They were, of course, speaking from experience. Their daughter is almost three.
I just shook my head and dropped the card back in the box. "Each Christmas more special than the last." Now that's rich.
I can't picture any Christmas in the future being blissfully complete in its joy. Not when someone so important is missing - and always has been.