Burn, Baby, Burn (my favorite holiday tradition)

My mother liked to set the tree on fire.

Every year around December 27th, my mother would carefully box up all of the ornaments, put away the trimmings, wrap the angel in tissue, and then drag our beloved Christmas tree out back to the burn pile. And every year, my sisters and I would tearfully beg for her to leave it up just one more day… She’d simply wipe our cheeks dry and continue on with her chosen mission as if her life depended upon it. All I could do was ask, “Why?”…

I didn’t understand it. In my child eyes, that tree was the ultimate symbol of Christmas. A symbol of good food and elaborate parties. A symbol of prettily wrapped presents and new bicycles. A symbol of late-night Santa visits and early morning gift hunts. It WAS Christmas. So, why, I wondered as I sat in that window, would my mother be smiling as she threw in one more match for good measure?

That question has haunted me for years.

But no more.

Now, I’m the one slaving in front of that hot stove cooking that good food, and the one planning and organizing that grand party. I’m the one spending countless hours sitting on the floor at midnight bent over a roll of gift wrap wrapping over-priced but NECESSARY presents (and then re-wrapping them once the toddler discovers that there are TOYS under all that paper). I’m the one trying to decipher the instructions to that new bicycle and not finding that one VERY important screw. I’m the late-night Santa AND the one who only gets approximately 40 minutes of sleep before being awakened with the shouts of Mommy, come see!!!

And, even though I’m sure to encounter a tear-stained cheek or two begging for just one more day, I have no doubt whatsoever at all that I’ll be dragging that tree out to that famous burn pile as if my life depended upon it… just as my mother had all those years ago.

Hell, I’m smiling just thinking about it.

December 21, 2006
Categories: Daily

1.©2006 by Courtney Hebert as Judith Shakespeare.
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