I have begun the process of decorating my house for Christmas. I don’t do it because I love decorating, but because I love the memories associated with each thing I put out. Therein, lies the problem. I cannot throw away anything given to me in love. Instead, it is wrapped in tissue and placed in a box so I can dither about whether or not to put it out again. In fact, I would prefer to have a rather Spartan house for Christmas. With a wood stove, every ornament and decoration requires weekly dusting. But those full boxes glare at me from the top of my closet and the dark edges of the attic. “We are up here!” the ornaments and angels howl. “It is Christmas and we need to come out and celebrate.” So far, I have resisted their clattering cries.
I have put up one small tree, which I admit I bought new this year at the Dollar General for twelve dollars. I have not hung a single decoration on it, except for the string of lights it came with, but they are menopausal. Hot one moment, cold the next: the whole string blinks on and off randomly. In spite of its shortcomings, I am positive that this tree will also find a home in my attic to join the clattering crowds next year. I’ve also draped one garland around an interior door. It is covered with Santas given to me by various family members or found on memorable trips.
There are five more boxes of decorations that could be brought out to the light. The Christmas village given to me piece by piece by my youngest son. No matter where I place it the cats seem to find it and break another house or barn or church. Catzilla meets Christmas. Three hundred angels given to me by students and friends. In a small town, if you tell one person something, soon the whole village knows. I’m sure parents who were trying to find the perfect teacher gift were ecstatic to discover I had a collection of angels at home. Every year, I unwrap at least five more. When I put the whole collection on display, it reminds me of humanity. After almost fifty years of collecting, there are inevitably some cracked angels, dirty angels, angels with missing body parts and angels that can no longer stand up straight. Still they remain a part of my collection. Isn’t it sacrilegious to throw an angel away? I try to rotate them so they all get a vacation in a warmer climate. Here we are only two weeks from Christmas and they are all still shivering in the Antarctic Attic. What to do? What to do? If I put any out, they will grow a little grayer with stove dust and Catzilla will mangle a few more.
This Christmas quandary reminds me of the true gift given at Christmas. Christ came down to a world full of mess and made joy. He left no one in the Antarctic Attic. He continually straightens those among us who wobble. He chases away Catzilla and glues the world back together. Sigh….I guess it’s time for me to unpack the angels.