I started the bittersweet ritual of taking down the Christmas tree. I always debate whether to leave it up a little longer so I can enjoy the sparkling lights and sweet faces on ornaments made for Christmases past, but the overwhelming need to reclaim my house generally prevails.

I carefully remove each ornament, reveling in the nostalgia behind them. I roll up the lights, wondering if it would be easier to just go buy new ones at 75% off.

I throw the tree in the yard to deal with another day and attempt to vacuum up the thousands of pine needles from the carpet with the full knowledge that inevitably, a stubborn few will remain, only to resurface in the middle of the night so they can lodge their attack on my bare feet.

I stand back and enjoy the open space in my living room, but sad to see another Christmas go.

Each year I vow to start with the correct end when I roll up the lights, and each year I vow to hold back the tears when I pack up the memories. At least I think I got the lights right this time. One out of two ain’t bad.