Saturday, December 15, 2012

When I Take the Tree Down - 21 Years Ago

I was musing over moving Alec back home, and thinking that I could be starting on the path to a very melancholy holiday.  21 years ago, I was staying in my little off-campus apartment with five other girls.  At the end of the semester, they all caught rides home for Christmas.  I remained for a few days, alone.

I had finished my two-year Associate's Degree in a year and a half (thanks to some high school AP classes), and I was moving back home.  There were no graduation ceremonies held in December - no pomp or recognition.   Just me by myself for a few days, while I waited for my folks to make the drive to collect me and my stuff.

My first year at college, we found - of all things - a tumbleweed rolling across campus.  We dragged it to our dorm and hung it in the corner of the living room.  For Christmas, we festooned it with cut-paper snowflakes and maybe some tinsel.  The second year, we girls pooled our money and bought a real tree.  It was so comforting to have a bit of homey Christmas tradition in our drab apartment.  The local old folks home was collecting decorated Christmas trees from the college kids, so it went to a good use when we went home.

But that last night, alone with my thoughts and our tree, I got waves of blue.  I had just heard Michael McLean's Forgotten Carols, and had fallen in love with it.  One song in particular, I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down, was stuck in my head.  Just close your eyes and listen - doesn't it make you feel melancholy?

My time at the small, friendly college was over, and I would be transferring to the big university near my home.  I knew I'd feel lost and have a hard time fitting in.  I've never been blessed with an abundance of social graces.  I was already missing my friends and the familiar places I had grown to love.  I was a bit scared, too.  I didn't know how I'd find my way around, or if I'd make any friends.

Yeah, I remember that feeling well.  But I didn't know what was around the corner.  Before the next semester would even start, I would meet the amazing man who would ask me to marry him.

I didn't know, and in my dismal state, I couldn't even guess that anything good was coming.  Isn't that how it goes sometimes?

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