Secondhand Christmas

I finished decorating my tree today, which sort of surprised me. I figured at the rate I’ve been working, I’d have it finished just in time to start undecorating, but I have twelve to twenty-eight days to enjoy the festive feel of the place before I feel lazy about keeping the tree up. I could do what a friend did — leave it up all year. Hers was an eight-footer that filled a bow window area, so it was out of the way of the rest of the house. It was so ornately decorated, I can see why she left it up all the time. It must have taken months to do all that work (though at the rate I was decorating my tree, it would have taken me years), and by the time she got everything off the tree and put away, it would have been time to take it all out again. So in her case it was better to just leave it up and enjoy it all year round.

My tree is small, a hand-me-down from my father. I’m not even sure why I kept it. Perhaps it was that when I was cleaning out my father’s house after he died, I didn’t know what to do with it, I had space in my storage unit, and it never seemed to be important enough to make the effort to throw it away. So I still have it, and I’m glad. The tree was actually gifted to him by my sister, and so now it reminds me of both of them. That seems as good enough reason to set it up. When I stop looking at it and stop feeling grateful, then I know it’s time to put it away for another year.

The red tree is also a hand-me-down. That one is from my brother who brought it to me back when I’d destroyed my arm and was housebound for several months.

It’s not just the trees that reminds me of others. In fact, almost everything I own at the moment has a story and a special memory, whether it is the furniture in this house, the dishes in my cupboards, even some clothes (and hats!) in my closet. For some people, living with all these secondhand possessions would make them feel poor, but it makes me feel rich. And blessed. And grateful.

Come to think of it, those are all good reasons to bring out my tree even though the Christmas season isn’t that big of a deal to me, especially now that I’m alone.

Related post: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas?


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

4 Responses to “Secondhand Christmas”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    Pat please tell me have you heard about
    Second hand heart.
    Second hand love
    Second hand Friendship
    In lot of cases in USA or other countries daughter happily to wear mothers wedding dress !
    So please enjoy yourself with your family precious souvenirs with love.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    Simply I said those words because both trees were beautiful. Good color combination green and red artistically speaking. Even I have no Christmas celebrations for the last four years because of my grief I will be happy if you have a Firsthand and naturally pleasant Christmas.
    All my wife belongings or any family belongings I will never say second hand possessions.
    Even economically and ecologically nice idea. Last decoration photo was little strange for me. Now I feel your beautiful decorations like something traditional. Jeff will feel it is a pleasant and nice deal for your house. You are going to have a calm and pleasant Christmas.

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