Christmas Past - A Look Back at an Unusual Holiday
The year I had a Christmas week I'll never forget
I bought the home in which I currently live one dismal, rainy December, more than a decade ago, closing on the deal just before Christmas with plans to move the following week. For the previous two years I'd leased a house only a couple of doors away, but moving is moving, with all its attendant stress and strain--even when it takes place within the same neighborhood block.
Needless to say, there wasn't much that was festive about a house full of stacked packing boxes and very few of the usual decorative signs of the holiday. I'd packed at night and on weekends after work, so "decking the halls with boughs of holly", or anything for that matter, wasn't practical. Nor was I able to cook a big family meal since everything from the kitchen and dining room was packed and waiting to be moved.
Truthfully, I can't even remember how I celebrated Christmas with my family that year. I was probably invited to someone else's house and went, bearing gift cards . (There'd been no time for Christmas gift shopping, either.) In fact, time for me that autumn and winter was a commodity in short supply, with a week-long work conference in another state shortly before Thanksgiving. When work-related travel took me away from my office, that meant longer hours there for a couple of weeks after I returned. My timetable for moving practically obliterated a "normal" celebration of Christmas as I'd known it in previous years.
That year, I wrote the following holiday letter in verse, drawing on the classic 'Twas the Night Before Christmas " children's story in verse for the format. I printed it on paper designed to look like an ancient scroll. I mailed this little screed to family and friends instead of holiday greeting cards. It was my way of preparing them for a Christmas (and New Year's) that would be very different at Mom's (Grandma's) from the norm.
My holiday letter that set the tone for what was to follow...
The Night Before Christmas...at Jaye's Place
It was the night before Christmas, rather different this year
No twinkling tree lights shone at Jaye D’s estate.
Instead, her possessions, both large ones and small
were stacked all around, packed in crate upon crate
In readiness for Moving Day planned six days hence
during the week after Christmas, while most folks just sat
recovering from feasting and unwrapping of gifts,
Jaye would be relocating to her new habitat.
Not across country, or even across town, but...
in the same block, yet that’s quite far enough
to move eight rooms of furniture and 2,000-plus books
and six closets emptied...oh, yes, t’would be rough.
Her family and others were drafted to duty
to lift and to carry, to load and unload.
“It’s the last time I’m moving....”, she promised them all,
for this move was to her own new abode.
While Santa’s bounty to children and grownups alike
Included things fun, useful, novel and wondrous,
all Jaye wanted was this special Christmas wish--
too big for her stocking--it was her own new house!
(Well, not exactly “new”—circa early ‘60s, but my name’s on the deed and the mortgage! Only two digits of my address will change. Come visit me. If you show up New Year’s Day, you may help me unpack!)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
EPILOGUE: No one came to visit me on New Year's to help with the unpacking, but I couldn't blame them. You see, on the day of my move, I began feeling very ill. By the time the last box was inside the house, I had full-blown flu for the first time in a decade. (I'd also been too busy to get my flu shot.) No one wanted to be near me in my state of contagion, but that was okay. I didn't feel like having guests, even the kind who work.
I took a week of sick leave from work. This was my pattern for the entire week:
Wake up and drag myself painfully from bed.
Take an acetaminophen capsule.
Unpack one box.
Lie down for an hour.
Get up and unpack one more box.
Lie down for an hour.
Continue this routine until I felt Death was approaching, take another capsule, then fall into bed for the rest of the day and night.
Next day, I started the process all over. This continued for an entire week. I managed to unpack nearly every box and even hang pictures on the walls while feeling horrid, a feat that amazes me even now.
Needless to say, I've never forgotten that Christmas/New Year's season or Moving Day. I doubt I ever will. If there's a moral in here somewhere, it's to NOT combine packing and moving house with Christmas and New Year's--especially if you neglect getting your flu shot!
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This is my original work and is not available for reproduction in any format or for any use elsewhere without my express written permission. Plagiarism of intellectual property is still theft. Jaye
Home, Sweet Home, Years Later
© 2010 Jaye Denman