Two nights ago, I encouraged Liam to leave his porcelain perch and get into the shower. I headed to my closet to try on some new clothes. I had put that job off for a week, just looking at those shopping bags with little hope. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t trying clothes on. With Clorox wipes in hand, I was sanitizing Pokemon cards that had fallen into the toilet. Luckily they were semi-protected inside a plastic bag and laminated. I hope Liam makes the correlation: if it can happen to Pokemon cards, it can happen with iPods too. A week ago Sunday, I met a friend for a Sunday evening coffee with the plan of going to the Christmas tree lot from there. She had agreed to be a merit badge counselor for Will’s Boy Scout troop, but the on-line training site kept gliching on her. I parked the van and looked around inside for my purse. I never forget my purse. I had forgotten my purse. I dug through the change in the trunk but couldn’t pull enough together for two cups of coffee. I broke into the glove compartment vault and stole the $50 bill from the yellow sticky marked “$50 from Grandpa and Grandma for Will’s backpack.” It bought coffee but couldn’t cover my tree too. And with a floating yellow sticky, the backpack may also be in jeopardy.
I bought the tree and asked Bill to help me get it up. He left the ball game, and we were very serious with this endeavor: me holding the tree upright and Bill tightening eight screws to hold the trunk in place. On cue, I backed up to check its vertical angle, and suddenly, it was no longer serious. The tree appeared to have landed on Bill and flattened him. And there I went with a gut-busting-gonna-pee-my-pants laugh. It was a scene out of a twisted version of The Wizard of Oz.
After letting the boughs loosen up for a couple days, I got out the box of lights and ornaments to put on the tree. Proud of and happy with my all-day organizing extravaganza at the end of the season last year, I had three sets of 200 lights ready to go. I plugged the first one it and only half the string lit. I burned my finger on one bulb in the second set. I saw no sign of light with the third set. I thought I was putting lights on the tree, but I was not.
Two days later, I have new lights. As I start weaving the lights back and forth, bottom to top, I feel the tree begin to hug me. “Bill!” Bill was working at the counter, then he wasn’t working at the counter. And yet again, my funny bone was tickled and I was doing something that I wasn’t planning on doing. Bill was not as entertained this time when I said, “Don’t move!” Again?
Two weeks ago, I cleared the shelves in the living room in preparation for my snowmen. After straightening and trimming the tree, I went to the basement in search of the box of snowmen. The week before, I had taken all the Christmas boxes out and neatly lined them up with lids off in the basement. No snowmen. I re-checked the storage shelves. Not there. I peeked into the storage room; they could be at the very back. I was putting snowmen up, then, suddenly, I was cleaning out the storage room.
A year’s worth of just-put-in-in-there lined the walls and covered the floors. I made it to the back, repacking Halloween and summer tubs as I went. No snowmen. I spent the rest of that day and the next looking in bedrooms and main floor closets, and even the dank basement closet and the barn loft filled with squirrel poo. Nothing. On Day 1, Bill told me there were red and green boxes in the furnace room, but I knew they weren’t in there because one was marked Trains and the other was Pirate Ships. Nearly off my rocker, I told Bill I thought perhaps someone had stolen them. He told me there were many things more valuable in our house than my snowman.
With the knock in the head back toward sanity, on Day 2 I went back to the basement. I lugged out the only boxes I hadn’t peeked into: the giant red and green ones in the utility room. The one marked Pirate Ships suddenly became the one filled with snowmen.
Needing a place to sit quietly for an hour, I went to church last Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, by myself. The closing prayer was written by Kate Mcllhagga from the Iona Community in Scotland. A few of the lines struck me.
“…help us to clear the way for you; to clear the clutter from our minds; to sift the silt from our hearts, to move the boulders that prevent us meeting you.”
That felt like a giant sneeze clearing much of the past week’s “I was… then I wasn’t” out of the December air.
Ten days til Christmas. May they be clutter-free, silt-free, and boulder-free.
Happy Hump Day.