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Nothing Will Be Missing

Story ID:3383
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:My Favorite Holiday Story
Location:Fort Lee NJ USA
Person:My Family
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Nothing Will Be Missing

New Year’s Day is in the past. The Christmas tree stands in the corner. Sunlight
streams through the window and reflects off the ornaments. I admire my tree again, as I
have for the last few weeks. In a week or so, I’ll pack the ornaments lovingly in their
containers and relive the memory of when they first came into my possession. The tree
will be dismantled, packed in its box, and everything will be put away for another year.
I’ll smile, because I know, like a photo album stored on a shelf to collect dust, it will be
pulled out again, dusted off, and once again bring back the past.


As a kid, I hated that time of year. For weeks, I browsed through the toys in the
catalogs – I dreamed. The wrapped presents taunted me – I wished. Christmas morning
came – I unwrapped. The things I dreamed of were revealed – I was happy. My
happiness was short lived.
On Christmas Day, I’d sit by the tree. Scraps of wrapping paper, missed by the
broom, slid across the floor when I blew at them. I felt sad. I’d blow in the direction of
the tree and watch the tinsel swing in the breeze I created. “Michael! Stop that!” Mum
scolded me. “The tinsel gets tangled in the branches.”
“Sorry, Mum.”
After unwrapping my gifts, I felt empty. Something was missing.
The New Year came. I hated it too. I felt no excitement for a new beginning. I
didn’t want to let go of the old and bring in the new. The “new” meant back to school
and homework. “New” meant Christmas and its excitement were twelve months away.


I look at my tree again. Why was I sad back then?
It took me a long time to figure it out. I missed the excitement. It’s like a drug. I
was addicted to it. I loved the anticipation. A torn wrapper revealed what was underneath,
ruining the thrill.
More than forty New Years’ later, I finally understand. The pretty papers covering
my past are torn away, but the future holds newly wrapped presents. I’m not sad my
previous life has been opened, because I know the future has new and exciting gifts to be
unwrapped. The gifts are not important. It’s the memories they create, reflected off the
ornaments on the tree, that count.
On our first Christmas, Ginny and I created memories to last like the ones that
hang on my tree. Packed away, put on a shelf, and wrapped in the soft tissue, they’ll be
stored in the box we call memory. I’m not sad. I know I can pull those memories out
anytime I want. They’re here forever.
A new year is here. Ginny and I have new memories to create. The old and new
memories will go in the same boxes as the old and hang on the same memory tree for all
to read. Over time, our memory tree will be slowly be filled. When it’s complete, our
time will be done. Nothing will be missing.

Michael T. Smith