Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just a tree

"Put the ornaments in storage so our birthdays can come," Ulysses said.

Last night I finally dived into the daunting project of separating out all the little toys and wrapping bits that had gotten mixed up with the Christmas village and HO gauge (get it?) train set under the tree, putting away the holiday glassware and replacing it with the everyday mugs, taking down the cards -- and that reminds me, I still haven't made a holiday e-card to send friends and family.

U had protested whenever the subject of putting the Xmas stuff away came up. It wasn't really much of a conflict, because I was nowhere near actually doing it -- always something pressing to take care of, no good time window for it -- until last night, anyway. Meantime, plenty of good toys from Santa were going unplayed with, as the tree and the expanding unorganizable pile around it took up valuable play space.

Donald and I pointed out that, with the tree up, there was no space to celebrate the household birthdays coming up, mine in a week and U's in mid-Feb.

As I picked and packed, I was reassured to hear U encouraging me. Good, he got the message about making space for the next life event. Then:

"Just leave the Christmas tree up. That way it's still Christmas."

Well, maybe it's a gradual letting go.

* * *

The evening progressed without incident, if you don't count having your head and back made into a human slide for Backyardigans figurines several times over as an incident. Ulysses was proud to figure out how to open the complicated train storage box "all by myself," with only minor breakage of the styrofoam inner casing -- "Oops," said U -- fixable with a tape gun.

No complaints as the ornaments came down and got put away in the little individual plastic cups of their original packaging.

"That box is still missing an ornament," U pointed out.

"That was the ornament that broke the day we put the tree up, when you crawled behind the tree to follow the train and the tree fell over and everything came off," I reminded, matter-of-factly.

"Oh, right," he said. "And then we fixed it?" he added, apparently hoping against hope.

"No, it was one of those things that can't be fixed. It got smashed to smithereens."

"Smithereens, right!" he said. It's one of his favorite words.

Knickknacks and garlands, the set of 12 figurines representing historical Santas around the world, the matching poinsettia apron and tablecloth from Donald's grandmother, the pair of wooden camels from a 2008 yard sale, all disappeared into boxes.

"Don't forget the lights," said Ulysses. They were the only thing left on the tree, and I disentagled them from the branches. As I stuffed them into their box, I noticed it was printed with a copyright date of 2003. That meant we had got them for the Christmas I was carrying Ulysses, just before he was born.

Ulysses looked up at the tree. "Now it's a tree," he said. "It was a Christmas tree. Now it's just a tree."

He was smiling.

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