I took down my holiday decorations this week. On Monday. February 16, 2015. President’s Day. Normally, my take down deadline is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January.
I have been so preoccupied with family matters I haven’t noticed the Christmas angel on the bookshelf. Once I put away all the daily stuff–the school papers, shoes, mittens, dishes, and supper leftovers–I procrastinate any other household projects like removing the signs of a holiday long gone.
But a little embarrassment can go a long way to motivating me. My neighbor visited our home with her daughter. She took a look around and said, “Oh, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with my Christmas decorations still up.” We laughed. We discussed life’s responsibilities and how putting away evergreens comes last. At the time, I was fine with these comments. No big deal. We’re busy moms.
In the morning, though, that changed. I could see the dust on the surface of my hutch and on the lid of my piano. Once the kids were off to school, I thought, enough already. Stop being so damn ridiculous. You’re either going to have to dust those twinkling lights or take them down. And taking them down along with the little trees and ornaments and creating an open space on the mantel is a much better choice.
This Santa’s been winking at me for nearly three months. He had a special place in the house this year because my aunt Nancy, the one who passed away in November, painted him when I was a kid. And an object left by a loved one seems more special once the reality sets in–no more holiday dinners with that gal. I pulled out Santa and hugged him and tried on the truth of never seeing Nancy again.
I’ve moved this Santa with me to town homes, apartments, and this place. Some years I didn’t let him out of his box because I fretted my kids would break him. But this year, I had to have him out. I usually let him stand by the fireplace, but to keep him safe, I put him up on my piano in the corner, a spot my toddler doesn’t bother with since chocolate isn’t kept there.
You may recall, dear reader, how I was asked to speak at my aunt Nancy’s funeral. And it was an honor. I gave that speech everything I could. But after that, the Thanksgiving and Christmas swept me into a time warp of buying gifts and feeling unappreciated. I didn’t feel “amused by the ordinary” as I often try to when writing this blog. That carried over into the New Year–the constant list of family preparations, the constant responsiveness required to deal with getting kids here and there and dealing with a cute puppy who is developing into that damned dog, and fixing meals, and maybe washing my hair once in awhile. I didn’t give a shit about taking down the decorations.
Well, until this week.
It feels good to take them down. To dust the empty spaces they left behind. It feels good to start looking forward, again.