The process of taking down the tree is same each year - first the candles and candle holders are removed. They get packed in a small box that lives in the laundry room - I am not sure how beeswax candles would fare in the attic during the summer months - better safe and cool then pulling out strangely misshapen candles next year. Then the ornaments that are more fragile live in another box that resides at the top the girls closet. Again - that concern over temperature changes in the attic.
The the rest of the ornaments are packed away in one of the three Christmas bins. The last ornament to be taken down is always the same - the Blue Angel.
One year she came with a book and every year since, that is the book we read when the tree is taken down on the day our little domestic church celebrates the Epiphany. Now, in the story, the little blue angel ornament hides herself in the tree so it will not be alone when taken outside and then later burned at the annual neighborhood Christmas tree burning. We have always wanted to keep our Blue angel for the next year but the thought of our very loved Christmas tree sitting alone in the yard is rather sad - don't you think? So each year we take one of our Christmas cards and cut out the picture of an angel to nestle in the branches of the tree.
I cannot help but wonder how many more Christmas' I will have where I will read the story of the Blue Angel - but I think I will always perform this small gesture of giving the Christmas tree a small angel to watch over him. It is part of the care I try to give to the season from start to finish.
All the lights have also been brought in. The Tree for the Birds and other outdoor Christmas greenery will stay up until February 2nd. I do love having these days where I know exactly what I will be doing! And before I pack up the all the Advent and Christmas books until next year I do think I will write out this quote to look upon on my more trying days.
"Yet this outgoing begins gently: it has something of the quality of Advent. Before the Divine Child leaves us, we are allowed to experience the loveliness of his indwelling presence. Therefore, when he has gone, the longing to find him again will be stronger than anything we may meet in the seeking; stronger than the fear which makes us want to remain locked up in our own limitations. No matter how hard the way, it will be in some measure sweet to us, and we shall take it, not as a path along which we are driven but as one whose attraction we cannot resist, because we know that on it we shall discover him.
Where must we seek?
Everywhere - in everyone.
How must we seek?
With faith and courage and limitless love.
First of all, by faith."
(A quote from Caryll Houselander's "Reed of God" as it appears in Thomas Hoffman's "A Child in Winter" - I recommend both).