I slumped to the floor with my back against the wall in despair. It was over. All the work. All the anticipation. It was the end of the night, the lights were out, and the birthday party I had been looking forward to for weeks was gone. My friends had left, and the quietness amplified the sorrow in my heart. I felt so alone, with nothing to look forward to. My 16th birthday party was over.
I guess I’ve always struggled with the “back to normal” after a fun event. Growing up it was mostly my birthdays. I would look forward to it for so long and the party would be so fun, and when it was over I felt I had nothing to look forward to anymore.
Last year we spent Christmas in Honduras, which was fun, but different since I never got to unpack my ornaments or decorate my house. Needless to say, this year as soon as Thanksgiving was over I was ready to get our tree and decorate. I said hello to the ornaments I had grown up with that I hadn’t seen in two years.
As the countdown to Christmas day began, I cozied up enjoying every little minute of hot chocolate by the tree, candles playing on the faces of my boys as we snuggled on the couch, and playing Christmas hymns on the piano at night. I savored every minute with our little family.
Yesterday, to celebrate New Years Day, Lukas and I decided to take down all our Christmasy things, put the tree in the trash bin, and get our house all crisp and organized to start the New Year. After church we had fun de-decorating, organizing cupboards and putting our house back to normal.
When Wilder woke up from his nap as Lukas was taking the tree out the door, he burst into tears. “More tree! More tree!” He said, sobbing. We tried to explain to him that we had enjoyed Christmas but now Christmas was over so it was time to say goodbye to the tree.
Tonight I was taking out a bag of trash, and in the dim glow of the streetlight, I saw the tree poking out of our trash can at the curb, all ready to be taken away. A lump formed in my throat, and I felt just a little bit like Wilder, wanting “more tree” and a little more Christmas. But I didn’t burst into tears, like I did after my 16th birthday party. Instead, I slipped through the darkness and quietly approached the tree.
The moon was hanging low, the air was chilly and I didn’t have a sweater on, but that didn’t keep me from lingering for a few minutes, as if to say goodbye. I broke off a branch and smelled it. The thought hit me that if a neighbor was watching me they would probably think I was crazy. But no matter. I just kept that pine needle branch under my nose for a moment, soaking in the smell, and thinking, and thanking God for a wonderful Christmas.. for our home, family, and for Himself.
Dear 16 year old self, you don’t need to cry. Seasons come and seasons go. Life goes on. And though that may not feel encouraging, know that more joys will come your way.
As 2017 starts, I want to embrace what’s to come.
What about you? Do you ever feel a let down after events?