We put away our Christmas decor today. It was time, as I need to get back to work, back to making the family dollar, so that we can eat and such things. I typically wait until New Year’s Day to put the things away, but this year, since it’s on a Thursday and I will be at work on Friday (or working from home, if not actually in the office), I won’t have a lot of free hours to do what needs to be done. With the holidays, my pay for the next pay period won’t be all that much, since I get paid on what I bill. Billing during Christmas lunch is frowned upon, as one can imagine.
I brough a briefcase full of stuff home with me, and I’ve done a bit but not much. I had plans to work nearly every day, and the time just slipped away, or I allowed it to, let’s be honest. I wanted to spend time with my Sweetie, sitting in the chair or on the couch, taking in the magic that the holidays, whichever you celebrate, provide. This year, the first in our new home, was quite nice. We were able to decorate in ways that I hadn’t been able to do before. No staircase, thankfully, so nothing wrapped around it to remove at season’s end. A double front door with a nice wreath and a bouncy snowman, a gift from a friend many years ago, were partners with the new LED lights we put in the two trees beside the doors to the house. It all looked very nice – not overly done, but done enough that it went with our home.
The magic dies down just a bit when the tree and her ornaments go back into storage. There is something really cool about the twinkling lights, like if you left them up all year, you’d be living at the North Pole or Christmasland, wherever those places actually exist. For me, the ornaments always make me cry and smile, remembering where we were, what we were doing, and what adventurous stories those ornaments can tell. I think the oldest one I have is from 1982, guessing, because it actually says “Lori 1982” on it. It’s a dead giveaway as to when it was made. There are many from the various trips we and my parents have been on over the years. There are momentous occasions, including the First Christmas Together 2005, the lawyer with a briefcase 2013, the Snoopy from Tokyo Disneyland, 1997, and the Snoopy with a note from the same friend who gave me the snowman. There are tiny ones, and larger ones, meaningful ones and trendy ones. I have some picks, stuck at various places on the tree, along with some fluffy garland that I got on sale, but at a time when money was free-flowing. Or fairly free-flowing. I know that I’ll be there again, it just takes some time starting a new career.
The nutcrackers are like my little soldiers. My protectors, in a way. The very first one, a stoic individual who wears a red painted-on suit, was in pieces in a plastic bag at a goodwill store many years ago. Like usual, I felt sorry for him and brought him home. Only $1, I felt like he was a good investment, and I thought that he was something that needed to come home and be loved. I carefully glued him back together, and he has been through many Christmases since. He was there when I was poor, when I was alone, when I had little patience, when my son was small, when I got remarried, and when I lost a co-worker on Christmas Eve. Putting him away, wrapped in paper in a box, always feels like I’m doing him a disservice, like he should stay out year-round, watching, waiting for Christmas, just being there. But, he goes back in the box with the others, awaiting another Christmas, as he herds the flock of like-minded nutcrackers that I have come to collect over the years.
I am surrounded by a loving husband, a wonderful dog, friends who would help me in any situation, and a job I enjoy. I am lucky. I’m just a bit less magical than I was yesterday, when the tree was still up, the lights were still on, and the nutcrackers were ruling over my mantel.
May the peace, joy, and magic of this holiday season remain with you all.