I just finished doing one of my least favourite things for this time of year: raking leaves.
And when I’m done here, I’ll have to get at another one: getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic.
I like leaves. I also like Christmas decorations.
But I like them both best when I don’t have to be too directly involved with them. When it comes to both leaves and Christmas decorations, I like the “look, but don’t touch” philosophy just fine.
Just as snow should stay up high in the mountains, where it belongs, leaves should stay up high in the trees.
Now, I should interject here that I don’t much mind raking chestnut leaves. But that’s only because Donna usually ends up raking them while I’m doing other stuff.
But the oak… that’s another story. The oak nearly always hangs onto its leaves until the weather gets cold and miserable enough that it’s Donna’s turn to have something else to do.
I’d like conifers – the firs and spruces and such – just fine, except they always somehow get connected to the Christmas decorations.
So now, in a short while, after I’ve settled the first of many batches of oak leaves down for their long winter’s nap (after which, I’m hoping, I’ll be able to repurpose them as plant food), I’ll have to climb up into the freezing cold attic and bring down the boxes of wreaths, an old nativity scene with tiny sheep and cows, and a miniature village that takes up half of a table and blinks its little Dickensian streetlights mindlessly at all those who are instinctively drawn to study it for signs of Scrooge.
There’s the animated Mr. and Mrs. Claus dolls who do their best to look as merry as the season, despite the ravages of time that have tilted Santa’s head in such a way that he now looks leeringly at his lady love, and then off into a vacant distance, and then back at his sweetie, and then off into the emptiness… almost as if he’s seriously thinking of making a break for it.
There are, of course, strings of lights to unpack and laboriously unravel from the rats’ nests that they have inevitably become… a task that never ceases to bewilder me, since I know that, every year when I put them away, I dutifully pack them so as to prevent tangling, carefully winding the strings individually on pieces of cardboard and plywood that I intend to cut for them each year.
There are boxes and boxes of glass and plastic and wooden balls and sundry ornaments, many of them clothed in wonderful memories… little white angels crocheted by my mother now so many years gone, special gifts from the kids (some of the art class projects are the most beautiful of all), special gifts to ourselves, poignant reminders of other, sometimes harder times, Donna’s and my respective ornaments bequeathed from the trees decorated by our parents in our youth, some cloaked in generations of memories and some only reminders that they were once attached to memories.
The numbers of memories and shades of memories packed in bubble wrap and yellowed newsprint have grown so that there are now far too many to fit on any tree that we could squeeze inside our house… and yet, somehow, I know every last one of them will find its place on a branch, on a twig, hanging from one of those damnable light strings, or simply cozying up to one another on the mantle over the nearby electric fireplace.
Hmmm… even for an old curmudgeon like me, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!