Just before Thanksgiving, I realized just how long it had been since anyone had seen his little tree. My youngest son who is now eleven was only eighteen months old when my father died. He has no memories of any of Dad’s trees. That thought shook me. We had all of his stuff exactly where he left it, and we just did not want to sort through the many boxes. I knew this could not go on. We had to sort through at least his small tree this year. I would put up my portion of the tree this year. (Mind you, a fraction of any tree my father had would be more than enough. Dad gave up some of the ornaments he did not use anymore a few years before he died, and rest assured, those make a fine tree.) I asked my sister if she would come over and sort through them. It took us two Saturdays to sort through and divide. Each piece held, discussed and place to one side or the other. Each piece was more beautiful than the last. Each piece held so many memories. I began to wonder what fueled this energy to create these Christmas trees. I can speculate, but I would only be speculating.
When all the pieces were sorted, the weight of the process hit me. Why had we waited? Part of me thinks that perhaps we waited because we did not really want to look too long at his absence. We had moved on with our own trees, and our own celebrations, and we did not want to go through his stuff. Maybe we hoped he would come walking through the door again and pick up where he had left off. Probably we waited because we knew sorting through his things would bring us pain. Who likes to walk knowingly into a situation you are sure will cause you pain? This Christmas, when the tree goes up, it will look so beautiful, but in my heart I will be missing my daddy. I would love to have him telling stories and laughing that big laugh of his. Things can remind us of our love ones, but they can never come close to filling the space they leave in our lives once they are gone.