Carefully you lift memories from branches;
Wrap in tissue, place in boxes.
Streets once bright with Christmas return to normal.
Peeling tape from wood, you remove the last card from the closet door;
Replace the manger with a knick-knack or a little lamp
(Or just a coffee cup).
Gifts opened Christmas morning, broken Christmas night,
You stealthily throw away while children sleep.
You drink hot cider, wrapped in new blanket,
And you wonder.
How does it end so suddenly?
When the apple pie was gone, the last bright paper strewn across carpet,
Somehow lights and songs and decorations so beloved
Were suddenly in the way.
You return to routine, and you are amazed that the spirit of Christmas
Seems to come and go faster than the man with the bag.
But it’s not over, not really.
Babe in manger, lifted by loving hands, taken home–
Not the end, never the end.
Starry night, angel song, shepherd worship–
These ended, but the Baby’s story had just begun.
Word made flesh makes all things new.
And you, with wreath removed from door and stockings from mantel,
Look to a new year, a beginning, a second (or third or nine millionth) chance.
Never the end. This is the beginning.