Thanks to the miracle of drugs, I actually got off the couch today.
[Aside: Yesterday I phoned my doctor’s office first thing in the morning to say, “Hello, how are you? I am quite ill and my face is about to explode, so perhaps I could come pay you $15 to give me some lovely drugs?” and I thought this was very clever of me, given the upcoming long weekend and all. Alas, if I was clever, so was everyone else in the tri-state area; I was told in no uncertain terms that they were booked solid, as was every other partnering health provider, and I should try some saline nasal spray and call back over the weekend to the doctor on call if my fever exceeded 102. I found it touching that their plan of care was to dump all their patients on whoever is covering for the practice this weekend, and then called Medical Professional Friend and whined until she called in a prescription for me. Moral of the story: MPF is worth her weight in gold, and my new, “better” doctor’s office operates almost exactly like the old doctor’s office.]
So. Today. I decided Christmas is over.
Ordinarily I leave the taking down of the Christmas stuff for after New Year’s, but there was an excellent reason that would be a bad idea this time. You see, Otto came up for this visit in a pick-up truck. As he owns a certain amount of stuff—let’s call his stuff X—and I own a certain amount of stuff—let’s say that my stuff equals approximately 8X—and moving is expensive and he’ll be moving maybe a few miles and I’ll be moving over a thousand miles, we got the brilliant idea to send him home with some of my stuff.
Ideally, the stuff we send home with him should be 1) stuff I won’t need for a while and 2) stuff I’m worried about movers breaking or losing.
Ergo, time to pack up Christmas and have it ready to roll when Otto heads south next week. And while I had my various holiday accoutrements tucked away in half a dozen boxes in the basement, I now had to try to pack everything into sturdy plastic bins (which is probably how it should’ve been, in the first place) with some semblance of order.
This required me to THINK. And I hate thinking. Especially when I’ve spent the previous week languishing on the couch bemoaning the necessity of nasal passages.
Fortunately, I had that one little extra push I needed to get me ready for the task at hand. Thanks to being sick and lazy for most of the week, my beloved candle lamps that line the windows of my house are completely out of whack. Downstairs I have the light/dark sensor kind, but upstairs I have the ones that are supposedly on timers, except that they are not, because they are TRYING TO KILL ME. So what ends up happening is that my room is nice and dark and I cannot fall asleep because I am sick and miserable, and FINALLY I fall asleep, only to wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning because suddenly four candle lamps have all decided that NOW would be a good time to light up.
I started with the candle lamps. Naturally. And I may have been a little TOO happy about packing them up and returning to nighttime darkness. (This little light of mine, I’m gonna… put it behind a blackout curtain.)
So I walked around the house, unplugging the lamps and tossing them into a cardboard box, and then finally settling in downstairs to carefully pack them into a bin for transport and storage. It was then that I felt a little pang.
The kids and I have spent six Christmases in this house. The same candle lamps go into the same spots every year, because almost all of them require extension cords, and they have heretofore always been put away with the extension cords attached, ready to pull out and resume their assigned position. So, I know the white extension cord with two lamps attached is the one that goes in the far end of the kitchen. The green cord with two lamps goes in Monkey’s room, and the orange cord wraps around the head of Chickadee’s bed to place a lamp in the window above the front steps.
By the time I leave this house behind, I will have lived here for over seven years. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I left the house I grew up in, nearly twenty years ago.
After some deliberation, I detached all the lamps from their extension cords. I packed them carefully in a bin along with the extras, wondering if the next house will have as many windows or maybe even more. I took ornaments down off the tree and packed them away. I gathered up the various decorative snowmen and other winter-themed bits and pieces and wondered if the kids will find it funny to have all those snowmen standing around on a 70-degree day in Georgia or if it will make them homesick.
Eventually I had it all packed up; other than the tree, I managed to fit everything into four bins. Otto said he’ll probably put the boxes up in his attic for now, so I reopened the bin that holds my Christmas tea light holder and removed the tea lights. I’m sure that by June they’d melt all over everything. I put them away with some other candles, but quipped that surely next Christmas I’ll be wondering where I put them, and why aren’t they with the candle holder?
Otto was not nearly so worried about that as he was about the bin with the ornaments in it. He insisted that I label it clearly as fragile so that he doesn’t stack stuff on top of it and end up breaking everything. “That’d be just GREAT,” he said, “if there we are, married six months, and we take out the Christmas stuff and I’ve managed to smash all your precious ornaments. You’d be divorcing me, right there at Christmastime.”
Which made me realize, as I was putting away this chapter of our lives, that, oh yeah, by next Christmas, we’ll have been married six months or so, and we’ll be starting our own traditions, in our own house, and I will have a whole new configuration of extension cords for the candle lamps to learn. I have no idea where we’ll be or what that’ll be like.
And I vowed right then and there not to freak out if some of the ornaments are broken when we take the bins out next year. I packed them up as best I could, and Otto will move them as carefully as he can, and we will have plenty of Christmases to reflect on the times past and to build new traditions and memories as well.
(Though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we ditch the “sinus infection for Christmas” thing. Christmas 2007: More cookies, less snot. I need to embroider that on something.)