Two years ago I was just a pregnant woman.
In the Old Country the decorated tree for a winter holiday is called, and is, a New Year tree. It is entirely nondenominational, and equally as defining of my childhood memories. And so we put one up every year, but not until after Christmas. When we decorate it, the way one decorates a New Year's tree if one is from the Old Country-- lots of lights, deep in the tree, then ornaments, then the shiny, culminating with copious amounts of icicles-- it looks nothing like any Christmas tree I've ever seen.
Two years ago we didn't take ours down until less than two weeks before A died. My dad took it down, actually, one day when he was not painting the nursery. Monkey didn't remember the date her brother died. But somewhere in her brain the whole thing got sequenced as "after we took down the tree."
I know that because last year she kept talking about helping JD put the decorations away, and then she ran off to her room, discombobulated and rather upset, before the first two shiny balls made it into their storage container. I don't think she remembers it consciously, but it is a strong association nonetheless. This year she stood on principle against letting us take the thing down. Finally, while JD was away I extracted a promise from her that we can undecorate and get rid of the tree after Daddy gets home. She claimed to want to help.
In the end, JD did a big chunk of it himself, and the World's Best Nanny finished the job. The tree only made it out of the house and onto the deck this week. I wonder how long it will be until it gets kicked (or thrown, whichever) off the deck...
Two years ago I was-- still-- just a pregnant woman.