Is there any more hateful task than taking down Christmas decorations? And if you have a short memory, as I do, you forget that while having two Christmas trees in the house may look fabulous and festive and you can divide the ornaments so you have a kids' tree and a grown-up's tree (my husband would argue it's the kids' tree and Carolyn's tree), dismantling two trees is not twice the work, but actually five times more work than taking down one. This is an actual scientific fact, backed up by much science-y-type research. By me.
Putting away Christmas ornaments is also, surprisingly, the one task at which I truly excel in the house. I've been collecting for a number of years, and each ornament is wrapped individually and packed away with precision. (Those of you who've ever been to my house may think to yourselves...hm. It's a shame she squanders all of her housekeeping energy to that one area...perhaps if she spread the wealth to other tasks throughout the year, there would be more of an overall benefit. And if you thought that, you would be correct.)
I do find, though, that wrapping each ornament is a mindless task suitable for much soul-searching, especially at a time of year that practically begs for it. (C'mon...it's almost New Year's! Don't you want to think about what you've done with your life this year? What you've achieved, what you haven't? What your goals are for next year? It's required! 'People' magazine says so!)
I find myself wondering, Next time I take out these decorations, where will I be?
Will I be unpacking them in the same house?
Will I still be home full-time or will I be working outside-the-home?
Will everyone I love still be here, still be happy and healthy and well?
Will I still be happy and fulfilled? What can I do next year to ensure that I will be?
What, for that matter, would I consider fulfilling, besides my terrific home life?
Will I be depressed because I'll be (gulp) 40?
Do I have any band-aids, because I just cut myself on the &*^% reindeer ornament?
I realize I can't shake the tree for an answer, like some green, prickly magic eightball. Though seeing an ornament read 'Signs Point to Yes!' just as I'm wondering if I'll finally hit Powerball would make for some sweet New Year's dreaming.
A lot of people use the phrase 'what a difference a year makes' and that couldn't be more true. I've had many years that have been unbelievably wonderful, and just one in particular that was particularly difficult to muddle through. I'm hesitant to discount an entire year as being terrible, even if there were some rotten times. I usually manage to count my many blessings, even during the low times.
Though I have had an overall great year; my blessings of love, health, family, warmth and relative prosperity do not go unnoticed, there are a few people in my life who have had more than their fair share of obstacles and loss to contend with this year. I am an optimist, and I speak now to them in particular:
Friday is a clean slate. The first of the month, the first of the year, and the first of a new decade. The turning of a calendar page does not guarantee an instant bright outlook, but I do believe that having a fresh start counts for something. For these people I love, who have suffered loss and heartbreak, my New Year's wish for you is that when you're unpacking your decorations next year, you feel peace. That you feel hope. That you reflect back on 2010 as the year with more good than bad, more happiness than tears, and a fuller, unbroken heart. I hope that, a year from now, you're reflecting back on 2010 as a year better than the last, in all of the ways that truly matter.
And to all of my friends, I wish the same. I wish you food on your table, a roof over your head, love in your life and peace in your heart. I hope 2010 is a year of promise and fulfillment, and success on your journey, wherever you're headed.
Happy New Year!