Monday, January 9, 2017

The Tree Comes Down, the Boxes Go Up

The tree and mantel decorations came down yesterday as planned, and I didn't break a single ornament. Last year I broke several and it was a miserable experience hearing to them fall and shatter. This year, my husband found a way to watch football in our living room and kept me company, and that may have settled me down. This year's tree was much less dry and more pliable, which it made removing everything a lot easier, since branches weren't breaking off in my hand.

It was sad to take everything down. Last year, the tree was so dry that it should have come down before New Year's, and it was curling and shriveled when I took it down on January 2nd. But this year the mantels and tree still looked quite pretty as I made them disappear.

It took most of the afternoon and into the night, bumping into Sherlock on PBS as I finished packing the last* items into tubs under the bed. My husband sawed the tree in pieces and wrapped them in two flimsy tree bags, and we hauled them along icy sidewalks to the alley.

Then we put the furniture back and put all the boxes away. The three wreaths are staying up and we are keeping the greens in the fireplace because they look nice and not too Christmasy. And there are always a few bowls of pinecones in the house.

I realized that we have a ridiculous amount of Christmas stuff, especially considering how small our apartment is. "This just occurred to you?" laughed my husband after I mentioned it. Um, yes. It fills almost our entire crawlspace, which runs along one bedroom wall, up high.

We have three large cardboard boxes that hold dozens of smaller boxes of ornaments. Those little boxes are arranged ingeniously within each big box, with barely an inch to spare. Fortunately, I am as good at spatial relationships as I am at collecting ornaments. Packing them is like doing a trio of challenging, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles. Which is not to say I look forward to it every year.

Three boxes doesn't sound like much But we also have a small box of handmade Polish paper stars, and two old boot boxes for lights. Then there's a  box for my beloved sugared-fruit topiary trees and several of my 13 wax trees (candles that will never be lit). There's also a good-sized box that holds cards, tiny ornaments, ribbons, little gift boxes, and miscellaneous items for wrapping presents.

There are three tall bags stuffed with wrapping paper rolls. (One bag is strictly "archival," meaning I rarely use the historic, precious papers out of sentimental attachment. If my husband forgets and uses some, as he did for most of my presents in 2015, even though I bought him his own paper, well, Christmas becomes a day of infamy and tears. Because my life has been utterly ruined. His, too.

But I digress. We also have some boxes packed with empty boxes. Because sometimes you buy stuff for people and it doesn't come in a decent box. And there are two plastic bags filled with bows. As a girl, I used to make bows for every single gift by hand; I even made bows that looked like the stick-on kind you buy, only nicer. Now I just buy that kind because life is too short and cats turn bows into toys with tooth marks.

All that fills the crawlspace. The only other things up there are our nesting suitcases, a box of painting supplies, an empty violin case, a Moroccan lantern, and a few pool toys. It reassures me that at least we don't have a lot of non-Christmas stuff up there. If I ever went into a minimalist state of mind for the holidays, we'd have next to nothing in our biggest storage area.

But that will never happen. I planned to deaccession ornaments this year because I only use a fraction of what I have even when I'm going overboard. But then I wasn't in the mood. I'm never in that mood.

However, I do wish we didn't have even more stuff under the bed: two tubs with our stockings, the wreath bows, the red-velvet "Fa La La pillow, more wax trees, old greeting cards, etc. Sometimes I hear those two tubs hiss "Hoarder!" at me as I lie sleepless above them at 4 am.

And then there's one more thing, which doesn't fit anywhere in the apartment: the tree stand has to live in my mother-in-law's basement. If she ever moves, we're in trouble.

In my defense, I must tell you that my godparents used to have seven Christmas trees (six artificial, one real) in their average-sized living room, several of which they kept up all year long. They also collected crèches by the dozen. Which makes my having 13 little wax trees seem respectable, doesn't it? I'm hardly a chip off the old Yule log. Or so I think.

I was planning to vacuum today and otherwise get the apartment back to normal, since tomorrow I have to help take down two Christmas trees and all the other decorations at the house museum where I volunteer. But Possum got very sick this morning, similar to what happened on Christmas Eve Day,  and we spent most of the day at the Angell ER. He's home and doing much better, and they don't think he has an intestinal blockage. But we still aren't sure what's going on. More about that tomorrow.

* There are always things I forget to put away, which I don't notice for weeks. I'm eager to see what I missed this year because I tried to be systematic and thorough. I love surprises. Sometimes.


  1. I can vouch for your ingenuity first-hand, but, um... pool toys? Should I even ask?

  2. Poor Possum! Hope they figure it out quickly! And I hoard boxes too, knowing that I will use them sometime. I even hoard them at the office, but it's my job.

  3. I was thinking there had to be a really good story behind the pool toys :)

    Many Purrs that Possum continues to improve and everything is okay.

  4. nothing wrong with hoarding Christmas decorations.
    Hope Possum is ok, oh cats, they give us the worry. I thought Dudley's time was up at the start of December, when he started going bald in places. Turns out it's just his old age. He'll be 14 in May, and seems he has a touch of the arthritis and was trying to ease his pain by washing. He was washing himself bald. A simple enough explanation, but for a while I just might have been a smidge hysterical, crying, wailing dramatically 'I'm not ready to say goodbye'. I can be a bit over the top when worried! He had a jab, which I've dubbed the Elixir of Youth, as the following day he jumped up on the kitchen worktops, something he hasn't even attempted for months! I think I could do with a jab like that.

    Happy new year to you, your husband, and that your little posse of cats!


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