It must be closely ranked with the days before the deadline for filing income taxes, the day to take down the Christmas tree. It has filled an empty space and our senses with its presence. It’s been a hiding place (and source of constant temptation) for the cats.
When I was a kid the tree was left up until Epiphany, although we often pleaded with my mother to leave it up for just a few days longer. How I loved to lie beneath the green boughs, inhaling the scent of pine, looking up at a colorful reflection of myself in the metallic orbs, or spot a red or green felt elf that seemed to be winking at me.
My mom was just as festive as our tree at Christmas, her hair in a beehive for the holiday, accented by red lipstick and her black and white clip-on earrings that had a tiny face of a lady.
Today I’m still saddened by the sight of an abandoned Christmas tree, lying at the edge of the driveway like roadkill, after being divested of its medals.
But the hardest thing to put away is my Christmas stocking.
Almost fifty years ago, my mom made matching red and green felt Christmas stockings for my sister and me. One year as they came out of their box, I put them on my feet and marched around the front room pretending I was an elf.
What treasures those stockings held for us over the years! There was that moment, when I sat up in bed and suddenly remembered it was Christmas morning, before waking my sister and running in my billowy flannel nightgown to the front room.
We did not have a fireplace so the stockings were hung on the bookshelf. Christmas Eve’s formerly flat felt stockings were bulging on Christmas morning.
After delicately removing the candy cane that poked out of the top, my sister and I reached inside our stockings and felt something soft. It was always a pair of thick red knee socks. Plunging our hands into the stockings again we discovered either tangerines, with their stems and leaves still intact, or maybe an orange. There might be a little wooden doll, or a small book.
One particular year, my sister and I each pulled out a small box. The tags read “from Mrs. Santa.” Lying on a delicate piece of cotton was a beautiful choker of pink velvet ribbon, and in the middle, a black and white cameo. My sister’s was a light blue version of mine. Mrs. Santa had cleverly attached Velcro on the back, and we put them on immediately and wore them at the breakfast table.
Feeling as fancy as our mom in her beehive and red lipstick, we wore Mrs. Santa’s velvet chokers with our dresses our mom made to church that morning.
But I never remembered my mom wearing those earrings again.
A Buttonwoods resident, Erin contributes her stories to this page as well as writing profiles for the Beacon.