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Christmas Past - A Look Back at an Unusual Holiday

Updated on December 9, 2014

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 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!


NOTE TO READERS: Thanks for supporting this HubPages writer! I will appreciate your vote and comments about this hub.

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


HAPPY, HAPPY! | Source

Home, Sweet Home, Years Later


© 2010 Jaye Denman


Submit a Comment
  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, Theresa. It was definitely a memorable Christmas week, but the circumstances were quite challenging.

    Wishing a blessed Christmas and happy new year to you and your family as well....Jaye

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 

    5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    What a wonderful story and poem Jaye. Although having to move near Christmas is pretty awful and coming down with the FLU at the same time is simply terrible!

    I love your work ethic...and I have done the same. Clean off one counter - lay down, fold one basket of cloths - lay down. sweep kitchen floor - lay down...sometimes it is simply all we can do.

    Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year! Theresa

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Shyron - I finally got settled in and went back to work. Since retiring several years later, I spend much more time in this house (some of my friends and family members use the word "recluse").

    Don't worry--I never miss my flu shot, but get it early in October every year. I've also had the pneumonia vaccine as well as the shingles vaccine. I don't need to be sick. There's too much to do!

    Thanks for reading.


  • Shyron E Shenko profile image

    Shyron E Shenko 

    5 years ago from Texas

    I am glad you got settled in and hope you got your flu shot this year.

    Voted up, UAI and shared.

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, younghopes - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Regards, Jaye

  • younghopes profile image

    Shadaan Alam 

    5 years ago from India

    That's so lovely and worth reading too, shared

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Au fait - That was truly a challenging time, my friend; however, I can look back on it now with a chuckle instead of a grimace. After finally getting settled in, I've had some happy times in this house--plenty of blessings to count.

    Thanks for reading and sharing. JAYE

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 

    5 years ago from North Texas

    What an awful experience! Sometimes it's true that when it rains it pours -- in other words everything seems to go wrong at once. Hope you never have to go through another time like this regardless of the season. Sometimes we fail to appreciate when things go well, so this is an example of why we should count our blessings.

    Voted up, BAUI, and shared!

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for the read and comments, Aunt Jimi. Looking back at that Christmas (nearly 13 years ago now), I can smile--even laugh--but it was anything but funny at the time. Moving, if you have to do your own packing and unpacking, is hard work at the best of times. That move, my last to date, was terrible!

    Hope you're having a good weekend...


  • Aunt Jimi profile image

    Aunt Jimi 

    5 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

    Moving is so horrible even when someone feels good! Having to do it over the holidays must have made it worse and then to get the flu on top of everything else. Hope you will ever only look back on it and never have to go through anything similar again.

    Never get flu shots. I think if everyone else gets them then no one will get the flu to pass it on to me! Voted up and interesting.

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    7 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Mike...Thanks for reading and your insightful comments.

    Ah, yes....I vividly recall that horrible year when I got sick with flu while moving, but I was glad to be in my own home even though illness made the unpacking an ordeal. I can look back at that time now and laugh. Great timing, eh?

    I can relate to what you said about writing and taking pictures for yourself, and you count it a bonus if someone else enjoys your work. I also understand what you mean about not understanding some poetry. There is a lot of poetry that doesn't get through to me! If a poem reads as though someone simply stood back and threw a random collection of words at the computer screen, I'm not likely to understand or enjoy it. However, a poem that speaks either to my heart or my senses, tells a story or makes me laugh--regardless of whether it rhymes or is free verse--that's a poem I enjoy.

    My fiction, poetry and essays are often quirky and I usually don't expect other people to "get" or like them. Therefore, when someone does understand and/or enjoy reading my words, it's icing on the cake. Even if no one else liked my writing, I'd keep doing it just for myself and that feeling of pleasure I experience when I reach the end of a new piece.

    It's different with my non-fiction articles. I want to write so that people read, understand and (hopefully) learn something from them. I've got several "in the hopper" right now, trying to pare them down so they aren't too long, yet still convey the important points. That's the most difficult facet of writing non-fiction (for me). I research and collect too much information, then have to throw out much of it. What to throw away and what to keep? Arrrrgh! So many decisions!

    Like most writers (except for those with inflated egos), I'm my own worst critic. This sometimes slows my self-editing process. I'm not a perfectionist, but do push myself to write as well as I can, especially non-fiction. If I were a perfectionist, I wouldn't start working on multiple articles simultaneously, would I? Ha-ha. (Note to myself: Don't start on a new article until the previous one is finished!)

    Thanks for reading, Mike. I'm always glad to have you visit one of my hubs.

  • empire mike profile image

    empire mike 

    7 years ago from empire, colorado

    in my mind's eyemagination i told you about, i can picture you deathly ill (i've had full-blown flu twice) but having your new friend- your home- sharing with you warmth and comfort during that trying time. i really like your poem, and as you already know of my association with poetry, i would be the last person who could critique someone else's poetry. after writing my "40 year poem," i read it over and over and even wonder how i did it, because i thought it was really good, when all i was expecting was a trainwreck. if i liked it, and the same with my pictures, that's good enough for me. it is truly a bonus if anyone else likes it. you know what i really liked about your's? i could understand it. what i don't like about so very much poetry is that i simply can't understand what in the heck the poet is talking about-it might as well be a foreign- i get nothing from it. if that represents good poetry, then someone else is more than welcome to try to interpret it. me? i'm a simple man. i look forward to reading and enjoying much more of your writing. always, mike

  • JayeWisdom profile imageAUTHOR

    Jaye Denman 

    8 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for checking out my old holiday letter, A.H. Yes, I did get unpacked and settled. It's a comfy house, but older houses always have something breaking down or just plain wearing out! It's too large a place for my dog and me, but my son from Tennessee is currently visiting for a month, so it's just right. (He's going to repair some things while he's here!) Cheers to you, also....JAYE

  • attemptedhumour profile image


    8 years ago from Australia

    Well you didn't strike it lucky on that first day but i'm sure you have got the place ship shape by now. You're right it is the thought that counts and i'm sure your nicely chosen words would have been well received, if not those horrible flu bugs. Cheers


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