williamallenpepper

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SHELVING THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

The holiday season is over.

I’m not saying this because the calendar says so. Screw calendars. Who needs ’em? The Mayans had a calendar that was supposed to show the end of the world. How’d that work out? I hear Christmas music in the stores in October and we’ve had tornadoes in December. I don’t give a figgy pudding about calendars.

But I know the holiday season is over. The reason is simple. This past weekend, I took down the family Christmas tree and other assorted paraphernalia.

When I was a kid, putting up the tree every year was an all-day affair that I looked forward to all year. While Dad assembled the stand and branches of the artificial tree, I had, basically, one job (well, two if you count, when I was younger, building a fort out of the empty boxes). That job was testing each light bulb on each strand of lights going on the tree while also determining which strands were blinkers and which were not. It’s a tedious job, but as a kid I thought it was AWESOME. There would be a football game or Christmas music in the background. Boxes of colorful, holiday decorations that all carried the sweet scent of the candles that were mixed in with them. Popcorn AND pop! Good times. It was, to me, magical.

Then, when the holidays were over, everything disappeared. Well, really, after Dad went back to work and I went back to school, Mom just got stuck putting everything away, but when I was little, of course, I didn’t spend much time thinking about that.

As an adult, honestly, the decorating process doesn’t hold quite as much magic. Mostly, it’s me trying to wind strings of lights on a tree (all the bulbs for which I had to test myself because my daughter got too bored with it to follow through), while tripping over my bickering son and daughter who are drowning out the Christmas music that everyone else thinks is corny.

But once that tree is up, and the assorted other decorations that go with it – we added a train running ’round the tree this year! – the holiday spirit kicks in.

But then, as with all things (except, apparently, Congressional gridlock), the holidays come to an end. It’s time to pack everything back in its box – only to discover anew that, thanks to some sort of weird dimensional paradox, there’s no way that goddamn thing that came out of that specific box is going back into that same stupid box – and put it away until next year. As stressful as decorating is now, dismantling is an outright exercise in boredom, frustration and cursing. Kind of like, again, Congress.

My house is back to normal now; as normal as it gets anyway. And I guess that’s a good thing. You need things to be plain and routine to make the holidays feel more special.

Now, who wants to haul the boxes downstairs for me while I go fix myself a drink to toast getting through another holiday?

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