Do you decorate for the holidays? We do.
Come Thanksgiving weekend we break out the garlands, set up the imitation Christmas tree, trim it with hundreds of ornaments collected and crafted over the years, and generally fill every last nook and cranny of our home with seasonal decorations.
Snomwen replace candles on the mantle. A Santa-head cookie jar magically appears on the counter. Holiday greeting cards from friends and family adorn the casings of several doorways leading off our living room. Even framed photographs are boxed away in favor of old photos of our children with a Santa-du-jour at the mall.
At first, the results of the process can be overwhelming.
Normal pathways through the house become restricted. Lights twinkle seemingly everywhere. Gnomes climb a ladder up the side of a bookcase and a motorized Snoopy in Santa garb slowly rotates his head like he's trying to work out a kink. Wrapped packages begin to spill out from under the tree, further restricting traffic and making it nearly impossible to plug in the tree or turn on the fireplace, which really isn't a good idea unless you take down the stockings and shift some of the packages away from the hearth to keep the Lego's inside them from melting.
Then you find yourself growing accustomed to it all. The lights and baubles and garlands blend together until, by Christmas morning, they are a natural and comforting backdrop to normal life.
After several days, the unwrapped gifts gradually make their way to their proper places. Everybody has a turn playing with the new ping pong table, everybody eats way too many cookies, and you find your pants have shrunk a half size since you put your daily treadmill workout on hiatus. New Year's celebrations come and go, and you begin to get that itch to pack up the holiday trimmings.
When you do -- when the tree is back in basement storage and the final bits of gold glitter are vacuumed off the hardwood floors -- the house looks and feels empty. The walls seem bare, as though you've just bought the place and didn't have enough stuff to fill it. At any moment, you expect to see the tiny head of Cindy Lou Who peeking around the corner to ask: "Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why?"
Before long, however, the familiarity of the normal decor settles back in. Neat and orderly, simple and straightforward, just the way it should be. January can begin.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler