It’s the 14th Day of Christmas (two days after Epiphany), and our Christmas remains incomplete even as we plan to put the holiday stuff away.
For starters, there’s the Christmas tree. We bought it a coupla years ago because it came with the lights already attached, saving us the proverbial frustration of having to untangle strings of lights before we could put them on the tree. I set it up and tied it to the wall. That’s as far as it got, save the teddy bear angel that I put on the top (unless you count the stuffed-toy pickle that Karlyn placed on a branch. The pickle has a message sewn into it: “Naughty – Dill with It”).
We never got to put up the usual outdoor decorations. The only thing that’s out there is the front half of our old artificial tree which does, in fact, have strings of lights on it as well as some holiday ribbons (it’s only the front half because I attached it to the railing of the front porch. That way, it has a flat side against the porch). Evelyn put some of Karlyn’s geodes in small boxes and wrapped them in water-proof material to look like gifts. However, even this tree, like the indoor one, isn’t complete, since Evelyn had wanted to put peanut butter on some pine cones and put them on the tree for the birds (never got done).
The only area inside the house that is completely decorated is the kitchen, and that’s only because older daughter ’Chelley came down to help me get the rope-garlands on the upper cabinets, the mantle, etc. It would have been nice to have everybody here one Saturday in December to bake cookies, but because of Evelyn’s hospitalization, that didn’t happen either. Thank goodness ’Chelley sent some “cookie-press” cookies down to redeem a tradition that would have been entirely lost.
You see, since Evelyn was in the hospital at this time, my motivation to decorate was minimal. I would remind myself that Ev would be pleased to be greeted by a decorated house, and that would spark a bit of a fire in me, but then I would realize that I didn’t remember where she liked to put things. Rather than have things in the “wrong” place, I decided that ’Chelley and I would do as much as we could and then wait for Ev to come home so we could do some more under her direction.
Once she was back from the hospital Ev was able to tell me which Nativities went where and to point out where a few other decorations went. Did that complete our Christmas decorating? Not by a long shot. The indoor tree remained unfinished, as did most of the other decorations that we usually put out (we have a LOT of decorations)!
It presented me with a bit of a quandary. Having no real passion for completing the decorating, I had to wonder why I did it in the first place, and I decided that it was to make Evelyn happy. She loves Christmas – the gifts, the baking, the card-sending, and, yes, the decorating. For me, it’s pretty much a case of hauling large, heavy plastic storage bins (“totes,” as some people call them) down from the attic and then having to navigate around them for a month (this year, the task was made easier by Karlyn’s boyfriend, Steven, who helped bring the bins down – very much appreciated). Being on the “hauling” end of decorating, the glitz and shimmer of the exercise fades quickly.
So now, with hardly anything finished, it’s time to repack the bins we did use and return them to the attic. Christmas 2023 will never be complete. However, in one sense, it will be complete enough, and that’s because Evelyn was able to leave the hospital and be home with us to celebrate. For that, we will be forever grateful.
So, what does it take to make Christmas complete? Sure, it would have helped a great deal to have our traditional decorations up, inside and out. But I’m grateful that I can see how it was “complete enough” because of family. In addition to having Evelyn home with us, we also enjoyed the blessing of having all our kids and grandkids here (18 people packed into our little triple-wide)!
I think I’ll chalk our incomplete, unfinished Christmas up to history, being grateful for the fact that it included all the important elements of a complete Christmas anyway.