The sound of creaking springs broke the long-established quiet of the attic. Ancient, dusty, decorated with cobwebs and insect carcasses, it was seeing now its first light in over a decade. The hideaway stairs snapped and moaned as reverent hands gently unfolded the collapsible ladder that stretched down to the hall floor.
And then there was quiet again for a few moments. Waiting. Waiting. Then, a deep breath below prefaced the slow and steady sound of strategically placed feet, ascending to the attic. The head rising to floor level, and for the first time 1968, Amberís gaze fell upon the attic. It took her a few moments to get her bearings and find the light switch in between the two by four beams that were spaced throughout the room.
She had dreaded this moment for the past eighteen months. From the moment she had returned home from her motherís funeral, she knew that this day lay inevitably in her future. She had put it off several times, had offered countless excuses to herself. But, in the past weeks, she had finally found the resolve to make the trip back home to begin the process of preparing her parentís home for sale.
Her parentís home. Her home. The home of her childhood. The place of laughter and tears, of joy and sorrow. The place of hula hoops and hopscotch, homemade ice cream and the smell of baking bread in the kitchen.
The furniture had been sold at the auction back in October. The house was empty now, except for the attic. She could avoid it no longer. The time had come.
The attic was the last place of collected memories, a sanctuary for photo albums and faded high school graduation invitations. And each picture, birthday card and folded piece of paper, cried out to her to be held again, to be restored to its rightful place in her memories. It was for Amber, the beginning of three days and three nights of sitting, sifting, smiling and sobbing.
As she moved some empty boxes from the last corner of the room, she stopped, frozen. Frozen in the attic, frozen in time.
She was nine years old when her dad had bought the Christmas Tree that now stood proud before her. How well she remembered the multicolored lights of blue red and green, the ice cycles dangling from the branches, the ornaments big and shiny. Standing before the well-worn tree of many Christmases ago, Amanda wept.
And in a moment, all of the memories in the old attic seem to be embodied by the Christmas Tree, still boasting the same colorful bulbs and ornaments, and with still a smattering of crinkled ice cycles. Standing before the tree she began to see the faces of long ago. Her mom and dad in younger years, vibrant, joyful and full of life. Her brother Jeremyís three year old voice began to echo in her head. Christmas carols, hot chocolate, struggling to go to sleep before the sounds of reindeer hooves could be heard on the roof.
And in a mysterious and beautiful moment, the sadness of lost yesterdays subsided, and a joyful gratitude filled her heart. Her heart became filled with thankfulness for all the memories that had been packed away in the attic. Suddenly, on a complete whim, she began frantically scrambling to find the electrical cord. To her absolute wonder and delight, the tree sprang to life with illuminated color when she plugged it into the receptacle.
And the ancient attic was instantly filled with rejuvenated colors of red, green and blue. The ornaments found a way to glisten through the dust, while even the ice cycles sparkled.
And Amanda sat before the Christmas Tree for hours, occasionally wiping a tear, while at times breaking out in gentle laughter. And the attic grew warm with memory, gratitude and joy.
A week later, the back of her minivan was filled with boxes of photo albums, cards and various other keepsakes. And in the front seat beside of Amanda, one very special box with carefully wiped lights and bulbs, and gently packed ice cycles, while in-between the seats lay a box filled with a carefully packed and preserved Christmas tree .
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