There amidst the piles of artfully arranged and carefully wrapped gifts was something for me. A pile of poop, a Christmas turd, deposited by the cat, perfect in its symmetry and ripe with a freshly minted aroma that only newly deposited shit can emit.

Was this his version of coal in my stocking? Was he doing Santa’s dirty work?

I know I should have been posting all along during these past few weeks before Christmas. I mean there’s serious fodder in the farcical holiday season and now it may seem a bit after the wise men have sailed, but I was unable to deal with the realities of the season, preferring to stay safely in the land of frenetic holiday denial. There’s so much about this holiday. It’s loaded. Just like Santa’s sleigh of expectations. I didn’t know where to begin and I had to process. But I’m ready now, so be afraid.

I’m torn between the happy-pants-let-it-snow Christmas post, and the reality that it truly is for all of us; a mixed blessing. Seriously, no one has one of those perfect families caroling around the wassail depicted in holiday specials and films. If they claim to, they’ve been into the eggnog big time.

As for me? I’m facing my second “alone” Christmas. And it’s all good.

Not really. I lie. At least before the separation we all knew what the script said, just what our roles were and our pretending came naturally because we’d been learning our lines for years. Now I’m faced with a blank page. I adore my ex-husband and we will always be a family, but we aren’t what we were and although everyone is better off, there is a sadness.

Let me tell you about my Christmas tree. The tiny blown glass wine bottle gifted to me by Astrid and Nic, a symbol of their profession and passion. The gaudy hula girl Jane gave Scarlett and I in commemoration of the victory hula dance we preform on the tennis courts after a victory. Green glass Tinkerbelle; chosen by Scarlett on our first trip to Disney World. It was a long hard decision for her back then, we visited each little kiosk searching for the perfect representation of the Magic Kingdom. She chose a fairy. Not a Princess. She was three.

There is Pooh and Buzz Lightyear, for Clay, as well as two tiny bunnies I bought for him on his fifth and sixth Christmases. There are Toot and Puddle, Sponge Bob and Madeline. There is a magnificent crystal acorn, from a long ago holiday party guest. There are many of those, hostess gifts from the days of the crazy beer and tequila fueled bash we threw each year, sometimes 150 people in attendance. I did the cooking. I did. I swear. That was a different life.

There are the numerous glass chickens, and the wooden reindeer hand painted and purchased by me at the Museum Of Folk Art some many years before the kids were born. There are glass icicles gathered a dozen per year, beginning when I moved to Manhattan, young and single. I couldn’t afford to buy a hundred of them all in one fell swoop, so as an optimistic 20 something, I started with a dozen, just as one starts with one push up at the gym with the expectation that in time there would be enough to make a difference. And now the tree is heavy with those glass spears, glittering and fragile. It’s survived numerous cats, a visiting Great Dane, and two toddlers. There were years where all the ornaments were hung in three square feet, and after the kids fell asleep an OCD Elf arranged them into a gorgeous tableau, complete with clusters of large clear glass balls, tiny opaque white ones, interspersed with cherry red globes all dangling between yards of white organza ribbons and 25 strings of tiny white fairy lights.

That same OCD Christmas Elf has over the years given each ornament a special box labeled with the year of gift or purchase and the giver. It’s been a tradition with the kids and I to take out each ornament and talk about the year it was acquired, the person who gave it to us or the year or time in my life when I purchased it. In other words, it’s a thing.

This year as I take each ornament off the withered tree I have great sadness. I feel as if I am putting parts of my life away in their neatly labeled boxes. I’ve left entire swaths behind, sometimes willingly, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes kicking and screaming. But in this case, it was a choice I needed to make and the most difficult one I’ve ever had.

I drop a particularly fragile and precious glass globe from the highest point on the ladder and in those moments of free fall I know it will break, and I am regretful and sad about the loss. In those ten seconds I accept it. And then it hits the hardwood floor and it bounces.

2013 begins in a few hours. I’m ready.