I haven’t taken any of my Christmas decorations down yet.
It’s the second full week in January, 2013, and the wreath is still on the door, the big red bells still flank the wreath and the jingle bells still jingle when I open the door.
The garland still wraps the banister; the trees, which are everywhere, still twinkle and shine.
They’re not still up because I am lazy, and I’m not saying that I’m not lazy, I’m simply stating that is not the particular reason the decorations stay hung.
They are still there because I’m not ready for the holiday to be over.
I know my neighbors must find me hugely annoying. Especially the brand new ones that moved in the week between Christmas and New Year, they must look over across our facing yards and think: “Great.”
I know it probably seems tacky. But they still bring me a bit of happiness and everyone can go suck an egg for a few more days.
This weekend I’ll haul all the boxes back down from the attic and start packing away my favorite part of the year. I’ll tell myself that next year I’ll get all the organizational boxes where you put each ornament in each little designated spot. I’ll assure myself that I’ll have it all together by next year as I wrap these fragile little memories in the paper that’s in the bottom of the storage boxes. Some of that paper has wrapped those ornaments for a decade.
Who has newspaper anymore? I do. From 1998.
I spend all year waiting and planning and anticipating Christmas. I always have. It’s always been the time of year where everyone was happy. No feuding or fighting. Everyone working so hard at being agreeable.
The time of year I saw all my cousins, we’d gather across families and miles and play in my Grandparents front yard until it was too dark to see then we’d sit in front of the fireplace and take turns opening gifts. Each year saying “Last year we started with the oldest! Youngest opens first this year!” Which meant every year I was next to last, being the second oldest. And every year I didn’t really mind. And every year it was wonderful.
Both my parents did everything they could to make Christmas amazing.
My mother, in a house with me and my 5 siblings, was completely incapable of keeping a secret a secret or a gift a surprise would let us start picking our gift as early as October. Some years I would get my gift the beginning of December, wear it (because it was always clothes that I wanted) because she couldn’t wait to give it to me, then she’d wrap it back up for Christmas morning.
My father, who woke Christmas morning without my brother and I, since we were across town waking in a different house, was obsessed with the perfect way to give the perfect gift and extracting as much joy from giving the perfect gift as I would get from receiving it, had a hard and fast rule: You DON’T get anything you ask for. So what’s a kid to do!? Well, you certainly don’t ask for anything you want, that’s for sure. But he always knew.
One year I made the mistake of asking for a CD player to replace my tape deck boom box. He said, “Absolutely not.” And I knew gifts were meant to be a surprise. But I wanted a little CD player so very badly. Well, of course, he gave me a real “grown up person’s” stereo that completely blew me away and still ranks as one of the most awesome surprise Christmas gifts ever.
I know I’m such a 50/50 mix of them. They are so so so different in practically every single way and I know the other is always shocked when they see the other standing in front of them in me, but I like to think I’ve worked very hard to take the very best of both of them.
I’ve worked so hard to take the perfect parts of my life and recreate them for my kids. I try to surprise them with exactly what they want like my dad. I sacrifice and plan and save for months leading up to Christmas so I can get them that one special thing they have been begging for, like my mom.
I do love that their dad and I get to do it all together. I can’t imagine packing them up and saying goodbye, like my mom did, or waking up with out them, like my dad did.
I try to fill their holidays with fun and freedom and family and friends. We eat too much candy, watch too many movies, stay up t0o late and sleep in too often.
And I try to make those holiday days last as long as possible, because every day that I am doing it for these two little girls I get to have as my kids I am also doing it for me.
So chill out new neighbors across the street. I’ll take this stuff down this weekend. I’ll pack it away. I’ll touch every ornament and angel and snowman and fill it back up with the love and happiness I restocked this year so they’ll be ready to give it back to me in 11 and a half months.