The Christmas that Won’t Go Away

Ornament Boxes. January 2, 2012

Christmas Won’t Fit in the Box

A photo essay in honor of my friend Nancy Owen Franson, who loves Christmas more than anyone I know.

The day after New Year’s Day is a good day to undress the tree, box up Christmas, hide it away until next year. But this year, Christmas won’t fit in the box. Here’s one reason:

Sawyer and Elaine Investigate His Stocking. Christmas Day, 2011. 

For the first time ever, a grandchild awoke under our roof on Christmas morning. I bought unbreakable ornaments and hung them on our tree’s lower limbs, just to be safe. He never went near the tree.

My Nifty Silicone-Tipped Kitchen Tongs Don’t Interest Sawyer. 

Those extra ornaments meant we needed more storage for our Christmas stuff. My husband proposed buying red-and-green storage bins to pack Christmas into, so he could easily identify the boxes in the basement next year. 
The unbreakables weren’t the only addition to my Christmas collection this year. After Thanksgiving, my dad asked my siblings and me to choose some of my mother’s treasures for ourselves. Mom loved Christmas more than anyone I know–except Nancy–and she loved angels, too. I brought home several of Mom’s angels for our Christmas tree. 
Mom’s Raffia Angels and Porcelain Cherubs, Alongside Unbreakable Stars and Snowflakes that Don’t Fit in Their Box. 

One raffia angel and one porcelain cherub played fugitive as I hunted among the tree’s boughs, removing ornaments, wrapping them in paper. 
 The Mostly-Undressed Tree, Harboring  Fugitive Angels.

Mom needed order less than I do. Maybe that’s because she raised three children to my one. In any event, I could imagine her giggling over my need to have all the raffia angels in their long gold box, and all the porcelain cherubs together in their red package. 
Raffia Angels Rounded Up. Mismatched Cherubs.

I finally found the last of the raffia angels. To my consternation, I had five porcelain cherubs and the box had space for only four. It troubled me until I looked closely, saw that three cherubs matched, and two cherubs matched, but there were not four of a kind. I imagine one of us three kids, the ones who freed my mother from her need for strict order, broke the fourth one, some long-ago Christmastime. 

Grandma Seiler’s Cardboard Box.

We did buy new storage bins, but I kept a few of the old pieces. I had to save this box. That writing? It’s my grandmother’s hand. I wept a bit as I wound the twine around the tabs. Those tabs are over thirty years old now. Grandma, she loved Christmas too. But not quite as much as my friend Nancy does.

Ornaments, Ready for Storage Bins. 

Once I’d removed the ornaments, Rich unwound the lights.

Rich Tangling with Strings of Lights.

Then he hauled the tree outside, onto our back deck. It was to meet a gruesome fate the next day.

Doomed Tree.

The spot where the tree had stood, gracing our home with the smell of Christmas, reminding our hearts to give thanks for the Savior, looked particularly empty. 
Where the Tree Stood, After.

Once I’d removed, wrapped, and tucked  the ornaments into boxes, It was time to pack them away. The new bins will hold our room decor, things like stocking hangers and the trees Rich’s children made, many Christmases ago. The ornaments, tree skirt, angel-on-top and tree lights will go into my tin tea chest.

Because that’s where they belong.

Tree Trimmings Tucked into Tin Tea Chest.

We enjoy one bit of Christmas year-round in our home. Rich spent hours stringing these lights back in 2007, so they stay up all year. But the neighbors don’t complain.
Our 365-Day Christmas Lights.

Christmas of 2011 won’t fit in its box. Rich has toted the bins down to the basement, stacked the decorations away until December. But the holiday refuses to leave my heart. It’s stuck there like the residue from an overzealous price tag clinging to a gift. 
As I told my five-year-old grandson, Cadence, “It’s Jesus’ birthday! So the whole world throws a party, and that’s Christmas!”

How do you fit that in a box? 

Three years after my mother’s death, I thought I had completed all the steps of truly understanding that she’s absent from this earth. Hanging my mother’s beloved Christmas angels on our tree was yet another reality check. 
How do you fit that in a box? 

A month ago I would have told you that baking cinnamon rolls with my daughter is the best part of Christmas.  Now I’d have to say that watching my grandchild open gifts in our living room on Christmas morning tops even the cinnamon roll event. 
How do you fit that in a box? 

Like Mary, I have gathered many treasures to ponder. And we don’t store those in the basement. 

16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-19 (NASB)