If I were in New York on my drive in to work and on my way home I’d see lots of cars with christmas trees tied to the roof, headed for a warm house soon to be seated in a bowl of cool water the cat will surely drink from. Folks will add evergreen nutrients and water their needley tree so its boughs will stay risen and green as they add tinsel, orbs of glass, or baby’s first ornament from sixteen years ago.
I haven’t seen many cars go by with trees on their roofs here in Virginia. Maybe that’s because they’re all on the interstate while my business usually keeps me on the “back roads,” or maybe it’s because folks lean towards artificial trees, who knows. Either way, there will be evening road trips where we pile into cars and head for neighborhoods where streetlights still look like gaslights decked in climbing pine needles, festive ribbons, homes adorned with candles and others filled with inflatable icons, christmas music blaring, preparations begun in September.
All I know is that I watched him take the fairy lights down. The backyard is his purview and he’s in charge or almost in charge of everything in it. There will be no christmas tree in his house this year because they are leaving, headed for the lands of three-foot-snow. The fairy lights will be gone. His yard will be empty. His puppy will dig holes far away and learn the joys of snowplowing headfirst at five in the morning. All life is tucked into boxes marked this room and that room and his kayak will be stuffed last into the moving truck. A new neighbor will come, and I doubt they will finish the mural his wife began on the property wall. I will miss the tiny blue fairy lights that lined his fence, that gave me comfort all those nights I paced and watched the trees sway or thrash depending on the mood of the wind.
I think about the saying “still waters run deep” as I spritz my windows in preparation of sticking holiday clings to them. That will be the extent of my decorating. No lights, no noise. Just a quiet acknowledgement that I still believe in peace and joy and love. Every card I sign carries hope and goodwill, and I wish it all for my neighbor as he moves into his winter wonderland.