Someone was stealing my Christmas joy, and it wasn’t the grinch.
“How many more?” Even from the top of the attic, I could hear the irritation in my husband’s voice as he waited for me to hand him down the boxes of Christmas decorations.
“Just a couple more,” I claimed for the third time. Math had never been my strong suit, but even I knew we were way past “a couple” by now. I moved to where the ceiling peaked, the only place I could stand up fully, and stood and arched my back. My blood pressure rose as I glanced around the messy attic. We’d only been in our house for two years but already the attic was full of clutter and chaos. It’s where I stuffed things when I didn’t know what to do with them. Instead of taking the time to make a decision, I’d just chunk the unwanted items up in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind.
“How much longer?” My husband’s voice jarred me back to the task at hand. I ducked under the air conditioning duct and grabbed the last box. I pushed it across the attic floor and then strained as I lowered the box to him.
Two hours later, I sat in the middle of my living room surrounded by boxes, tissues, ornaments, and tangled Christmas lights. After what seemed like hours, I finally untangled a mass of lights, strung them on the tree and then learned only half the strand worked. The longer I searched through the disorganized boxes, the more frustrated I grew. What should only take a few hours was going to take all day. The worst part was I only had myself blame. Present Me was angry at Past Me.
333 Days Ago
I stood in the middle of my living room and spent a long, last minute admiring my beautiful Christmas decorations. A strand of the Christmas tree lights had gone out the night before, but everything else still looked beautiful. They looked so good, I almost hated to take them down, but the empty boxes were waiting in the hallway. I thought that I should take pictures so it would be easier to duplicate the decorations next year.
My thoughts were interrupted by a ringing phone. “Hello?”
“Susan, this is Beth. I know Jim is working today. So is Bob. I also know our kids are at an all day youth event at the church.”
“Yes?” I said suspiciously. I knew my best friend was leading up to something, and I hoped it was good.
“There’s a 3:30 showing of Dreamgirls. Let’s go.” She sounded like a teenager planning to skip class.
I looked around the room. I had to have the decorations down today because my husband and I were taking one of his clients to dinner at six. Tomorrow my daughter had an out-of-town basketball tournament. I had church meetings all day on Sunday and I started back to work at the school where I taught on Monday. I looked at my watch. It was 1 p.m. If I hurried, I could get it done.
“I’ll meet you there.” I was ripping the lights off the tree and tossing ornaments in the boxes before I even got off the phone.
1 year in the Future
I climbed down from my attic and looked at the box of Christmas decorations my husband had stacked neatly in the hallway. Each box was clearly labeled with printed labels: guest bathroom, living room mantel, living room tree, playroom tree. I smiled as I opened the box labeled living room mantel. Laying on top of the carefully wrapped items was a picture of my decorated mantel. Last year it had taken me hours of rearranging to finally remember the way I liked it. This year it would be a breeze.
I wrapped my arms around my torso and squeezed.
“What are you doing?” my husband asked when he walked in the room. I’d been caught. My face turned red as I admitted the truth.
“I, uh, was just giving myself a hug. I did a very good job packing up the decorations last year.” This year Present Me was very pleased with Past Me.
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