“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Dr. Seuss
Today January 5 between 7 am-8 am (the time between Leisa leaving for school and Jon getting up), I threw out Christmas. Not another house in our 128 unit complex had a tree by the curbside. And yet I can’t tell you how freeing, how liberating it felt; it was as if a weight as heavy as Santa’s full sleigh had been lifted from my psyche. Now I know some may think that makes me a Grinch, but it doesn’t, slightly phobic, perhaps, but not Grinchy or at least not pre-epiphany Grinchy.
I have, it seems to some, an irrational fear of a few things –
- Christmas Trees
- Space Heaters
- Gas Heat and Stoves
- Overwhelming Clutter
I probably could have an irrational fear of candles, but I do not, so I think that ups the sanity quotient for me.
And like every person with an irrational fear, I think I can rationalize it. In one word – FIRE. Every year since childhood I listened to the news about some whole family who lost all their possessions, even Christmas gifts that were never opened because a fire broke out due to Christmas tree wiring combined with lack of Christmas tree watering, and space heaters. I remember as a kid wanting to give some of my as yet undelivered Santa presents to the kids who now had nothing. I spent long hours contemplating what “nothing” meant – usually at a young age it meant no more toys or in some of the worst scenarios – no more pets.
So imagine my state of mind when my husband brought home a space heater. And he regularly insists, joining forces with Leisa, that we must have a live tree put up early in December. And we bought a townhouse with (supposedly) preferable gas heat and stove. “Do you want to just kill us all??? I swear my life insurance policy isn’t all that big.”
Now the clutter thing isn’t as closely linked to fire. Although it could provide fuel and impede exiting a burning building. Clutter paralyzes me, and I am a collector of stuff and a maker of my fair share of clutter. But then I am powerless against it. Client and executive coach Robin Samora of LetsMakeYouShine.com told me that clutter in your space is indicative of clutter in your mind. And both need to be cleaned out before anything good can happen. I believe her.
All four of my fears combine around Christmas, so really is it any wonder I am relieved to dispense with the Christmas trappings. (“Trappings” seems such an appropriate word here.) By 7:45 a.m., I set about carefully categorizing my ornaments for their labeled boxes (labeled for easy visibility on top and 3 sides (four sides would be overkill)): Stars, Hearts, Angels, Snowflakes, Birds, Natural, Family-made & Family-oriented, Balls coordinated by color, Folk Art-like, Specials (valuable or antiques or craftsman-made) and that tiny frustrating box marked Misc. Ornaments. I gave away all the candy canes, contained the excess wrap, folded the 12 stockings with care, untangled and checked strings of garish multi-speed blinking, multi-colored lights, and I am joyful about the post-Christmas return of order to my world. This morning I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered: “God Blessed Us Everyone, we made it through another year”.
While sweeping the needles from the front steps for the tenth time knowing full well there will be an eleventh and twelfth sweeping and that sometime during the spring or summer I will again hear the tinny sound of an elusive needle being sucked up by the vacuum, I see that neighbors witnessed our tree in repose by the curb, and have started to bring out their own. It’s time now to commence my post holiday hankering for spring by growing things – amaryllis and paperwhites – to tide me over ’til my vigilance pays off and I see snow drops (the plants, not the flaky stuff) and pussywillows. Except for the mud, Spring is a much tidier season.
© 2012 by Alison Colby-Campbell