I took the Christmas tree down last night. It's the same little tree that stood up proud in the back of my truck as I drove down Highway 101, on the way to our For The Sender Holiday Show at the Belly Up. I lost about half of the ornaments on that short trip along the coast, and by the time the tree was loaded back up to come home after the show, it had been a long night and all I wanted to do was get in the truck and drive.
As I headed back north, I could see the shadow of an ornament in my rearview mirror, hanging on furiously to one of the top limbs. The wind coming off the ocean met the drag from the truck and the shadow whipped around and around and around, but I could make out the shape. It was a tiny surfboard, emblazoned with 'Ma 'n Pa's Grocery' on the top, which was the little store down the block from where I grew up. I gave a silent prayer for the old ornament to hang on and I don't know why I didn't stop, but I didn't. I knew it would probably be gone by the time I got home.
Which it was. Over the next couple of weeks when I'd take out a saddle or a bridle from the back of the truck I'd check the crevices of the bed just to be sure, because the ornament was sort of a historical marker to my past. But it was gone, likely resting in a gutter on 101, so I had to let it go.
Probably just as well, because this Christmas was different for me. My family's flights into town were canceled several times so I was on my own for the first time and struggling with the idea of letting go of someone close to me, which I still am, and sometimes all you can do to lessen that kind of pain is hope for a change in the season. And so last night, when my mom asked me when I usually took the Christmas tree down, I said, 'Now.'
When the tangled lights and ornaments were put away and the needles swept up, I dragged the proud little tree out to the curb. A stray something or other caught my eye as I turned to walk away and I bent down to pull whatever this debris was still clinging from the small branches.
My breath caught for a moment and I gently took the small wooden surfboard from the fingers of the tree to my own.
Maybe some things don't ever let go once they take hold.
That's ok by me.