Red and Green and Gone

Red and Green and Gone

I was planning a nice holiday post for this week. Something about wonder and light and the happy faces of children.

Then I lost the Christmas tree ornaments.

I’m blaming the pandemic. With some of my free time at home this past year, I took on the project of cleaning out our messy attic. Unbelievable amount of crap up there. I spent weeks sorting it into two piles: green tags to keep, red tags to give away.

In April, I contacted a local company to cart off the junk and donate any usable items to deserving families and organizations. They spent the better part of a day loading our red-tag items into a couple of trucks. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and can-do attitude.

Apparently I wasn’t watching when they enthusiastically loaded a big box marked “Christmas Ornaments.” I don’t know for sure that that’s what happened. All I know is that a few days ago, when Yvonne and I decided to decorate the tree, the box wasn’t there.

My heart did a flip-flop and huddled up against my lower intestine. How could they have taken that box? Should I have been watching more closely? Did I screw up with the colors? Should it have been red tags to keep, green tags to give away?

You have to understand, we’ve been collecting ornaments going back to our wedding day and beyond. That box contained dozens of irreplaceable treasures, including gifts, personalized mementos, kindergarten holiday projects, clothespin shepherds, miniature family photos in tiny red frames. Each year, we would put on Christmas music and the three of us would decorate the tree, talking and laughing and reminiscing about each ornament. All of them were precious, and now they were gone.

I told Yvonne. To her credit, she didn’t kill me. “They’re not so important,” she said after taking a few deep breaths. “They’re from another time, when Maggie was little. Now they’re just memories.”

So this year, Christmas will look a little different around our house. The tree is simple and clean, like the damn attic. Under the tree are fewer presents, because Maggie is an adult now.

And somewhere across town, a deserving family will open a box, check out the ornaments, and wonder who Ron, Yvonne, and Maggie are.

Happy holidays, whoever you are.