The year of big change

I have a big old treasure chest in my living room that’s home to my Christmas ornaments and decorations.
Opening it in early December each year to reveal and welcome the contents back into the holidays makes for quite a ritual at my house. We celebrate the occasion with bells on and serve up a decadent selection of chocolates arranged on a tiered crystal dish.
We’ve done this since my kids were little and it is one of our best holiday memories.
Returning the trimmings to the treasure chest after Christmas is something I’ve always done by myself—paying careful attention to the order and setting of each piece, and making the scene a beautiful one to lay eyes on next time around.
It’s also the time of year when I get melancholy and wonder how life will have changed in my world before the chest is opened again the following December.
2006 was—for me—the year of big, big change and I knew in mid-July that when December came along this year, I would have to break tradition and open the treasure chest full of Christmas without bells on and by myself.
When I closed the lid on Christmas last year, I was nestled very comfortably in a big, beautiful home in the Devlin countryside. And even though I did my traditional wondering at the year to come, I couldn’t have imagined anything in life would change enough to make me want to leave that world behind.
I loved my life there and expected that’s where I would be beyond the days of long, grey hair.
But the universe had other plans and today, I can’t imagine being anywhere other than where I am—a caretaker of sorts, living in a small, old farmhouse that once belonged to my grandparents.
It’s the old-fashioned life of my dreams and my husband’s.
I knew I had to open the Christmas treasure chest alone this time because the sight of it all would be too much for my soul and back in would rush the sadness of grandma’s death nine months ago, coupled with the awe of big change that now had me sitting in the very living room where I still wished she was, and tripled by the mystery of an unforeseen future that had brought me and my family to live in this place.
And I was correct. Opening the lid of the Christmas treasure chest made me weep for all kinds of reasons. But at least for me, they were all the right ones.
Perhaps it’s time to change the way I do things at its closing, and bring in reinforcements when the holidays are over to help put Christmas away until next year. We all could be thanking each other for being there, instead of me being alone and brooding over what I’m not sure about.
So into the treasure chest this year I’m adding my gratitude for the simple, loving life of a grandmother, and for a pet named “Griffon” who was more than just a dog.
Here’s to every day I wake up to Pete and his growing collection of banjos and guitars (though I reserve the right to complain when they take up space in the bed), to my kids who aren’t kids anymore—and for my sniglet Adam, and to the kitchen light at my parents’ home that I couldn’t see from my window at this time last year.
And yes, here’s to the unknown. As Mitch Albom wrote, “ All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”
Last but not least, to the folks who so graciously let me know how much you enjoy this column every week. Might that I continue to draw you in.
Happy New Year, everyone!

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