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The New Year

January 2011

by Michael O’Brien


It’s the second of January and the New Year is underway!

One of the first orders of business was to recycle “treezilla,” an 11 foot tall Fraser Fir that my favorite oldest daughter thought was a “must-have-Texas-sized” tree. We had talked the seller down to about half-price and helped him load it into the pickup. It was a good size for the pickup, hanging out the endgate just enough to look respectable. We had stopped by UPS to mail a few gifts to my sisters and brother (who forgot his gift when he left the party?), and the ladies in the UPS store had seen us drive up, and when we walked in, they said they had been worried we were going to ask them to pack and ship the tree!

It took all Erin, Maggie, and I a bit of wrestling to get treezilla up the stairs, around the corner and into the living room, but once we tipped it up, stood back and looked at it, it was magnificent, and just the right size for the room. Erin was right!

The girls spent an afternoon making snowflakes from paper, some little twisty ornaments from pipe cleaners (a Christmas cat?) and then we all assembled the tree. It didn’t take long to get lights, garlands, ornaments, snowflakes and pipe cleaners on the tree, and it made a beautiful tree. The first Christmas at Brook Hollow. Treezilla, all dressed up, held the room’s attention for a bit over two weeks with its lights and glitz and piney-woods scent. But today I had to take it down.

Its hard to start Christmas all over, with none of the old ornaments or the old angel for the top of the tree; it’s easier when Maggie makes Christmas cookies, and Erin narrates contemporary culture with her decorating of the cookies, and really, having their energy here in Brook Hollow was the best part of Christmas. It was hard to take them to the airport, but they were still here when the tree was up, so it didn’t hit me till just now that Christmas is over.

I took down the garland, snowflakes, small ornaments, pipe cleaners and began repacking the larger glass ornaments in the boxes and was thinking that these spheres of glass in silver, gold and green were pretty anonymous compared to the snowflakes when I came upon a message written on one ornament. It told me they were thinking of me, something that as a parent you secretly always hope but you know they have to live their own lives and that they can’t think of you as often. I tried calling a few times but didn’t get through, so I collected myself and finished packing lights; now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get an 11 foot tall and 7 foot wide tree through the 3 foot patio door and out on the balcony for a brief flight to the adjacent woodlot….

I sang to the one who holds my heart yesterday, and, well, my voice is not so good. Some words disappear completely when they fall out of my narrow gravelly range, and…she sang back to me! I’m hoping it’s a good omen; we both gave our imperfect selves to each other and received the other without judgment, without critique, just openly gave our voices, inches from each other, an amazing moment, one of many, but a good omen for the start of the new year.

My last ramble for the day. We watched a TED talk on vulnerability last night.
It was quite eye-opening on the whole subject of acceptance, being accepted, risking hurt to become meaningfully connected. Take a look if you have a moment; it’s less than 20 minutes and the speaker is pretty entertaining. I’ll replay it today and try to pick up what I missed (as I contemplate how to get treezilla out the door!).

Hope your New Year started safely, and that you were in the company of the one you love.

Be good to each other.