* * * * * DO WHAT YOU LOVE * * * * *
Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, January 2020
I can feel the eyes staring at me. The eyes are accusatory. The eyes are judgmental. I avoid looking in their direction. In fact, I have tried to keep my eyes averted from the uncomfortable stares for a few days now. I quickly pass through the living room...my eyes peering straight ahead...on the way to the kitchen.
The eyes of dozens of crafty school-made Christmas ornaments are staring me down. Attempting to weaken me. Willing me to give them my full attention. I glance over to see the little cherubic Christmas Angel with my son's kindergarten picture's face hot glued to the winged body. I recoil but then meet the eyes of my daughter's second-grade yearbook picture, forever encapsulated in a tiny clear acrylic Christmas tree frame, hanging near the top of the tree; her gaze looking longingly somewhere off in the distance. A full-body shot of my son in his Dallas Cowboys tracksuit stares at me for a long time until I notice his sweet smiling face begins to turn sinister.
The Santa hats on tiny heads and construction paper peppered with strands of green and red yarn, along with foiled-gold pipe cleaners—surrounding tree-shaped frames—are making my head spin. In my mind, I hear a chorus of voices pleading, "Take us down. Take us down." Little lispy preschool voices. More demanding first and second-grade voices with an authoritative fourth-grade voice mixed into the works. I am ashamed that it comes to this every year, starting on New Years’ day and continuing on until mid to late January—on occasion.
I give the sulking tree one last look as I resign myself to the fact that it is time. I head out to the garage to pull down the dreaded attic stairs and begin the long process of gathering up the ornament storage boxes. Soon the memories of Christmases past will be quietly nestled away in cozy little plastic bins...each ornament with its own corrugated cardboard partition...until next year, when the merry cycle will start over again.
By Lisa H. Owens