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The Aftermath

By the end there was glitter everywhere. Mostly green with flecks of red mixed in. Very Christmassy. The seemingly endless buildup to the big day had suddenly ended.  And all of the carefully wrapped gifts were now revealed.  And the wrapping paper destroyed.

The story of my own wrapping prowess has already been told.  But those around me, they are much better at this holiday festivity.  And the gifts which I received were each a masterpiece of adornment.

Sharp and tight corners. Invisible tape.  Packages placed carefully in boxes which were actually appropriately sized.  Several of the gifts I gave called for several phases of discovery.  A tiny bag had a note inside that said, “ask for the basketball.”  It wasn’t a basketball at all.  But it was big and round.  A globe of the Earth.  For you youngsters, you can look up the word globe in your online dictionary.  Another tiny paper bag had a message asking the recipient to, “ask for the scooter.”  I ride a scooter, but not like this.  It had wheels, but less than two inches in diameter.  It was a rolling stand to place a big heavy potted plant on. Handmade.

By reading the discarded tags which identified the giver and receiver of each gift, any observer would say that I personally did not give a single gift.  But there were things from people like Dew Drop, Popeye, Amelia, Kung Fu and Gung Ho.  Each moniker providing some small clue as to the contents of the package.  Sometimes the connection between the gift and the name is only fully revealed after the present is opened.  My family is used to this silliness.  And I think would be disappointed with a gift form “Dad.”

On the floor lay shreds of colored paper, balled up remnants, piles of old ribbons and bows and little do-dads used to enhance the outside of the gifts.  I was told that I had to throw it all away this year.  Start anew with my collection of used wrapping ribbons.

And, there was what seemed like it must have been miles of scotch tape.  I use tape very sparingly.  And that’s why my packages are lumpy and dumpy looking.  My sister prefers to use enough tape to seal the entirety of every seam on the package.  And sometimes with double coverage.  I think she learned this from my mother who was an awesome present wrapper.  But my sister also wrapped gifts for a living for many years.  All of the tape makes the gift look fabulous, but also makes them harder to get into. And impossible to unwrap with out tearing the crap out of the paper.

So I’ll gather up all of the paper and stuff it in sacks to haul off to the recycling place.  I’ll sneak one or two cool boxes into the basement to save for next year.  And I’ll bury a few spectacular bows and ribbons into a secret hiding place for the future.

It’s been greatly anticipated. For a long, long time.  And much has gone into making this Christmas the greatest ever.  But now suddenly it’s over.  And we settle in for the reality of Winter.  But guess what?  Its only 365 days until Christmas!!!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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Plastic Santa

Middle of January and Santa Claus is still meandering along the back roads of Georgia. Everywhere else in the world he makes his Christmas Eve journey, goes home to the North Pole then grabs his swim suit and hops in his Lear Sleigh and flies off to Tahiti for a long winter’s nap. And some well deserved R and R.

At least that’s the tradition as seen in a lot of places. Here in Georgia, and I’m told in much of the South, there is a tradition that calls for all good folks to have all of their Christmas decorations removed by New Year’s eve. Else ill fortune should befall them.

When I was growing up we had a different tradition. I never was sure where it came from . On Christmas Eve day we would put up our Christmas tree. It may have been sitting in a bucket of water in the garage or barn for weeks, but it never came into the house until Christmas Eve. It was decorated in the late afternoon, before church. And it would stand in the living room, glowing and shining until January sixth. The day of Epiphany. The day the Wise men finally showed up to see Jesus in the manger.

Over the years I’ve compromised some. The tree goes up right after Thanksgiving, and stays up until January sixth. A long time.

But here, in the middle of January, it’s all gone. It was surprising then that while driving down the back roads today, headed toward South Georgia, I saw Santa Claus.

Not the real one. He really is in Tahiti. And not a blow up one. It was a plastic Santa. A blow mold Santa.

I love these things. They remind me of the fifties and sixties. Whenever I see one I stop to look. There are bigger than life ones, tiny ones and every size in between. Sometimes he has a sack full of toys. Sometimes it’s just him. He may be waving. Or chuckling. So many different ones. But they all have a red suit, black belt and white fur trim.

With no shame, or sense of boundaries, I have been known to stop at the sight of a blow mold Santa to take a picture. Even to inquire with the homeowner if they would be interested in selling the figure. No such luck.

People who put blow molds in their yards either know what they are and value them highly, or are very sentimentally attached. In neither case never will they sell them. Among mid century enthusiasts, blow molds are quite a treasure.

There are nutcrackers, toy soldiers, angels, nativity entourages, reindeer, sleighs with reindeer, snowmen of all sorts, and anything else that is in any way related to Christmas. To make it all so much better, blow molds have found their way into every major holiday. Trust me, my sister has one for everything. Or I should say, several hundred representing everything. A tad over the top perhaps.

This day, in South Georgia, Santa was still standing cheerfully on the front porch of some lucky families home. Maybe they keep him there to bring them joy. Or maybe because it’s too hard to pack him up for the year. But for whatever reason, he was there for me to see. And enjoy.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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New Traditions

Traditions formed around our celebration of the holidays take on a significance that defines the way we celebrate. And come to represent the holidays in and of themselves. Turkey at Thanksgiving. Lights at Christmas. Without them, there is no holiday. And any change to this routine can be devastating. In our minds.

Lights are how I define Christmas. Religious aspects aside, the lights mean more to me than anything at Christmas. Candles in the church. Lights on the tree. And lights on the house.

This year was different for me. I had moved into a new house, and had to redefine how I would use lights to decorate for Christmas. The new house has a different shape than the old. And different landscaping. All of which impacts the places I can put lights, and how they look.

It’s a work in progress, and next year I will add more. But for this year I settled for one hundred feet of colored lights, the big ones from the old days, strung out along the gutter of my ranch house. And three giant light up snowflakes in the picture window of the living room. Framing that window is a candy cane rope light. And a giant blow up Santa Clause waving from the garage. Lit inside with a single bulb. Without a light, the wreath hangs from the door knocker on the front door.

Around the back of the house there are three lit up blow mold toy soldiers, a blow mold Santa, and a Moravian star. Complete with a flaming tail made of icicle lights.

Inside there are two trees. One lit in white with formal decorations, and a second, larger one, brightly colored with hundreds of little lights. That tree is covered with decorations I’ve collected over the past thirty years, all with a rich meaning and significance. And, there is a lit up blow mold Santa. Not bad for the first year here.

Out of curiosity I drove by the old house to see what the new owners had done. Would it be as spectacular as I had done it in the past? More formal? Bigger and better? I had no idea. And when I drove by the house in the darkness of the late evening, I was amazed. Not a single light to be seen. No wreath. Nothing.

Inside I could see a Christmas tree. Located in the living area where I had always placed mine. But gone were the green and red rope lights wrapped around the columns of the front porch. Gone the wreath on the front  door. No Moravian star hanging on the porch, waiting to greet visitors. No strings of colored lights adorning the shrubbery lining the front of the house. And no lights strung out along the roof line. Not white. Not colored.

It was very disappointing. And as I thought about how I had decorated that house for the past nineteen years, since its very first Christmas as a newly built home, I thought for a moment that the house was calling to me. I miss you! Come back and decorated me!

Does the house take on the personality of its residents? Does it remember? Or mourn? I don’t know. It looked happier lit up. I do know that.

New traditions for me at my new house. And new traditions for my old house with new owners. Change. I go with the flow.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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