(This post was featured on CatholicIcing.com in December 2011.)

My husband and I are done with paying for, hauling in, trimming off, trimming on, watering, getting bloodied by, disassembling, and dragging out a Christmas tree.  I'm also done with vacuuming up a pound of pine needles come January. 

We mourned for about thirty seconds.  Then we smiled and slapped each other five.

Don't get me wrong.  We did the tree thing for 35 years, loved it when our adult children were youngins.  We have 33 years of precious ornaments made by said youngins, along with beautiful, fragile heirloom pieces.  And then other junk I pare down every year. 

This year, it is simply time to create a new tradition.  One reason is that our children are grown and on their own, so the tree-helpers are gone.  The main reason is that we now have a piano. 

It's the piano from my childhood, and I received it this past February when my parents moved into their assisted living facility.  They went from a three-bedroom house to a one room room, and there wasn't space for a piano. 

The piano is beautiful in my living room, and someday I hope to get back to playing it.  It resides where we always put the Christmas tree.  So this year, I decorated the piano...  

The piano is great because it doesn't need lights.  Or tinsel, which I always feared was, after the holidays, choking the dolphins somewhere in the Atlantic. 

It's an ideal place to display in a clear vase my father's childhood ornaments.  My favorite is the faded gingerbread house in the neck of the vase.

My husband brought home discarded fir branches from the garden department at Home Depot, which I splayed around the house, so we still experience the evergreen fragrance.  Love it.

I dangled some of my favorite ornaments around a room or two...wreath on the door...holiday cards hung on the staircase...


I don't miss the tree.  Haven't thought two hoots about it.   Or one hoot.  

It's liberating. 

It's enabled me to spend more time thinking about the nativity scene on the coffee table... 

The exhaustion Joseph and Mary must have felt by the time they arrived at the smelly, old stable.  

The fear of birthing a first baby far away from mom, a sister, or a best friend.  

The agony of labor pains endured on a pallet of hay.  

No ice chips, no epidural.  No doctor to ease the baby into its first breath.  

The first visitors were shepherds, and kings.  Camels and sheep... 

What a night...

In the hours I saved trimming a tree, I baked and iced 200 sugar cookies to mail to my kids and give to friends.  And cleaned up the kitchen.

I love my piano "tree."  It's a cherished addition to our home.  It brings with it a zillion memories of my musician father bringing music into my life.  It's an heirloom of the heart.  

And it has indirectly made Bethlehem the prominent focus of my holiday preparations.   

Linus said it best....

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."                                                             Luke 2: 8-14

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.


Mary said...

Love it! Our tree is up, but less ornaments on it, too tired to decorate much. I was thinking I needed to start going through all that I have and pare down also, but that will probably wait for another year! Love the piano story, and the ornaments from your dad's childhood. Sorry we will miss the laughs!

Sister Brittany said...

Wow. Congrats on your new tradition for Christmas.

Personally, I'm a fan of the squat, lightly decorated OUTDOOR Christmas tree, which becomes a nice allergin free decoration because it is not invading my airspace.

I really like the idea of putting ornaments in a clear vase. And... we did really enjoy the cookies. ;o)

When are you going to come and visit? You should see our decor. ;)

m. ball said...

Sr. B! My sister and I are planning to come up the first week of May, I believe. Very excited!

Phil said...

Linus got it right! We we all need that reminder in the midst of all the giltz.

Merry Christmas!!!

Retired Knitter said...

You are my new hero!! I totally love this post. I am now re-thinking my Christmas tree!

I am so glad we have discovered each other in the blog world.

Bernadette Veenstra said...

I love it! Especially the ribbon and cards on the bannister. I did my bannister and cards different this year, and that is a great idea too.=)

Marianne said...

This is genius! I may steal it for next year. But your piano is way prettier.