Every year ‘undecorating’ the house after Christmas puts me in a maudlin state of mind. It’s the opposite of putting them all up in the first place, when you have that child-like joy and anticipation of all to come. Now your engaging twinkly lights are replaced by darkness. This darkness creeps into my mind and causes me to wonder. Will I still be here this time next year? Will I still be healthy? Prosperous? Who in my life’s cast of characters will still be up on stage with me, and who might have exited? Might someone I love be dying, terminally ill? What if this was my last Christmas with my beloved Pooter, who is almost ten years old now and moves as if mired in molasses? What if my wild child Booger breaks through his invisible electric fencing and leaps in front of the wrong car and flies away to puppy heaven?
In 2002 I had no clue that my stepdad would never again bring my Mom to our annual Christmas Eve party. Nor in 2008, when taking down our holiday frivolity, did I sense it would be the last time my Mom would be sitting on her couch, Old Milwaukee in hand, crankily directing my every move, lest I drop one of her cherished 1950’s retro ornaments. 2004 held no foreshadowing of it being our final one as a family before my husband’s suicide. My son and I were blissfully clueless that his Dad would never again struggle to get a ridiculously oversized tree to stand upright in its stand, never again nearly fall off a ladder stringing the outdoor eave lights from a three-story roof.
I’ve been holding this mawkish post-holiday head parade since I was a little girl and I would really like this nonsense to stop, thank you very much. Back then it made some sense, as my Mama changed Daddies more often than her friends changed their minds. It wasn’t unnatural to wonder if this might well be your last holiday with Grandpa Johnny or Aunt Jane. This regular changing of the family guard didn’t just mean bye-bye old Daddy and hello new one. It entailed losing and gaining new cousins, uncles, houses, towns, churches, schools. So, I’ll give that little kid I once was a pass for her peculiar thinking, but now? Still? At my age?
Does it happen because your hands are occupied packing away the Christmas village in bubble wrap but your brain is idle, and therefore casting about for some mischief to make, no matter how gloomy? Is it because this ritual only takes place one time every year, and is consequently given a place of reverence and importance? Am I the only one on the planet who engages in this mental snowfall? Or perhaps, as Shirley Valentine so aptly said, perhaps I’ve simply gone loop de loop, round the bend?
Does anyone else out there suffer from the sad anticipation or future events that usually fail to materialize? Is there an antidote, a vaccine, an herbal remedy? Might Dr. Oz have a suggestion?
Do any of you suffer from this strange malady? Somehow I’d love to know that I’m not alone.