I looked at my beautiful Christmas tree and sighed. It was time. The New Year was a week old and my tree still stood in the corner of our room with its collection of memories proudly displayed in a shower of colorful lights. I’d procrastinated long enough.
I got up, went to the garage, and hauled all the boxes into the room. The garland was the first to come down. The tree looked naked already. I took the large ornaments off next. They made a large pile on our bed. An hour later, our bed was covered with Christmas memories. Each pile contained an ornament along with its matching brothers and sisters from sets purchased many years ago.
I prepared the boxes and carefully placed ornaments in their protective packaging, pausing every few minutes to admire a favorite. “Hey, little Santa!” I held the Santa from my childhood. “Thanks for being my friend for almost fifty years.” He was a little ragged but still gives me a flood of wonderful memories. “Until next year, my dear friend.”
There was a collection of handmade ones. My children made it to their first years of school, more than twenty years ago. Made by tiny hands, they are far from perfect in design, but every year they go on my memory tree – memories of young giggles on Christmas morning and a smiling face when they handed them to me when I came home from work. “Look what we made, Daddy!”
“Oh! It is beautiful. Let’s find a special spot on the tree for it.” Every year since they are displayed.
A few hours after I started, the filled boxes were back in the garage, the room was vacuumed and I sat staring at a barren corner. The room seemed so empty. It took me two days of work to assemble and decorate my tree, but only a few hours to take it apart.
My tree is a good marriage or a great friendship. Like the tree, they take a long time to assemble and decorate with memories but can be torn down quickly. All it takes is an unkind word or a thoughtless act, and what once stood proudly in the glow of love comes tumbling down.
Every year I have to put my tree away, but not my marriage or friendships. I take great care of those. They get to glow in the corner of my life for as long as I live. I get to analyze my tree and find memories for a few weeks every year. I can do the same with the love in my life every day. When I held Santa, a flood of wonderful memories returned. The same happens when I hold my wife or see the smile of a friend across the room.
Take great care of your friendships and your marriage. Once they come down, they aren’t as easy to put back together as a Christmas tree, if at all. Stand them in that special spot in the corner of your heart and admire their glow.