It’s Christmas time, and during an ordinary year — regardless of how rough a year may have been — I put up the Christmas tree. Much is written — probably too much — about how meaningful it is to relive memories as ornaments are unwrapped and the ghosts of Christmases past emerge from storage. I subscribe to this sentiment under usual circumstances, but this year I couldn’t bring myself to take out the grade school creations, my children’s cotton ball Santas, my mother’s birds and my father’s mooses, and the little bell that had been on my first tree as a baby. Instead, I opted for the memory-neutral little artificial tree that my daughter picked up on sale for me a couple of years ago as something that I could put on the patio. Instead, it’s in the living room in the usual spot of the more sentimental tree, minus the angels and the reindeer that mean so much to me.

Next year, I will bear down on the blade of days gone by, and I will bring everything out again. I won’t hide from the things I hold dear for more than one December. But this season — this bittersweet “most wonderful time of the year” — I just need a break from the things that broke my heart.