It's the last day of January, and I know in my heart, it's time. Time to let go, say goodbye, but I've been putting this off all month long and I'm still fighting it. I tune into Pandora and turn, reluctant, to the task at hand.
Taking down Fernandito IV, my beloved Christmas tree.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Our first tree together was four Christmases ago. We'd been dating six months and decided to put the tree in his apartment. On our way back from the tree lot, the smell of fir needles filled the car, and we made a spontaneous detour to Goodwill to search for ornaments, because we had none. By this time, most of them had been picked over, but we gleaned enough to spread sparsely across the branches.
"He needs a name," I said, leaning back and studying our tree, waiting for something about its characteristics to jump out at me. Finally I suggested "Fernandito." After all, he was a Mexican tree, I'd decided, and he was also a fir tree. And that's how Fernandito Fir Tree came to be, and how every one of our Christmas trees, in the consecutive three years, have beared his name.
. . . . . . . . . . .
He was the first one I greeted in the morning, plugging him in, and the first I said hello to coming home. In some strange and pleasant way, for almost two months, he was family.
It all sounds ridiculously sentimental and, let's just say it, maybe more 'mental' than anything. But this little fir lit his way into my heart, from the beginning of December until now, and I have dreaded taking him down.
I'm singing along with Pandora, plucking ornaments from nearly every branch, and some of his needles fall to the floor like offerings and the sap still coats bare spots on his trunk, leaving remnants on my fingers. Needles once pliable and deep green, now brittle and rust-tinged, he's more fragrant than he was at the beginning. And I think, that's how I want to be. The most fragrant when I've reached my end.
The song I'm singing brings me to tears (I say that as if it's a rarity), at these words, even as I'm laughing at myself for this foolish attachment.
When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
And in the space of a blinking Christmas bulb, my tears are no longer for Fernandito. Maybe they never were. I'm remembering another tree, another love, a home I've never seen but somehow known in shrouded waking dreams. My ache is for him, for Jesus, for home, for the day when death is just a memory and goodbye is no longer part of our vocabulary. The day when beauty is unfading, the air that fills our lungs and coats our fingers, because everything, everyone, revolves around this Source that is him.
A day when even trees never lose their glory.