Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Untrimming the Tree

As I exited the security area at the Milwaukee airport, I glanced up to see the sign "recombobulation area." Here were tables, chairs and a quiet place to recombobulate -- i.e. reorganize and repack -- all the discombobulated items tossed in the bins when passing through security. The sign and area are the brainchild of Mitchell International Airport Director Barry Bateman. He thought it would be a fun way to take some of the stress out of travel.

So maybe that's what we need now at the end of the Christmas season -- a time to recombobulate, a time to do some "untrimming." This would be when we carefully remove, rewrap and re-store each ornament from the tree, when we carefully rewind the strings of lights -- both from the tree and from the front lawn and, finally, when we remove the tree from the living room. For the purists, that means wrapping the tree in a large, plastic garbage bag to minimize needle drop, as the tree is dragged out the door to the curb. For the rest of us, it means finding a way to systematically fold the plastic branches in such a way as to allow maximum tree life in years to come. This year I will attempt a trick few have tried and even fewer have accomplished. I will drape a sheet over the tree and store it -- fully assembled and strung with lights. Pulling this feat off requires a large enough storage space to accommodate a tree for 11 months and a partner with strong enough hands to keep the tree level when positioning it. All in all, the untrimming process is necessary, but it's not something especially looked forward to. In retrospect, we often spend three to four weeks getting everything just right for a three-hour party. The trimming was more fun than the untrimming will ever be.

It's much like when I visit family for the holidays. I anticipate the visit, the time together, and the chance to laugh and reminisce with family, only to face the difficult time to leave. Saying "hello" is fun; saying "goodbye," well, not so much.

This year I have a picture of our daughter holding the grandbabies in her arms, as she stands by the window, and the babies are waving bye-bye. Then there's the grandson who climbed the back of the couch, so he could wave out the front window, as we walked away. Saying goodbye to the rest of the family was no easier, knowing we might not see each other for a good, long time.

I may not like the untrimming or the goodbyes, but I will continue to trim and say hello. Such is the nature of Christmas celebrations, with their time for special decorations, gifts and family visits.

So it is I am already looking forward to 2012's year-end round of holidays and family celebrations. It will be fun to decorate, gift and visit. No amount of untrimming or goodbyes will ever dampen the anticipation of the trimming and hellos to come.

And isn't that one of the true wonders of the season -- how it renews itself in our hearts each and every year?

We pray you have a blessed 2012, filled with lots of opportunities to celebrate and rejoice!

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