Christmas ended forty-two days ago, and I am finally taking down the outdoor Christmas lights. I feel lazy, lumpy. Sheepish. I feel watched, as though the neighbors are looking out the window and flagging to one another that the intervention is off. 7806 is finally cleaning up their act.
I climb up the ladder and pull the clips off the gutters. It is done in minutes. I wonder if my other goals could be this simple, such as eating salad and salmon, jogging. Being more clever and patient with my children. Being laid-back, effusive, convivial. It would only take a major personality shift and partial lobotomy.
I can’t even approach a salad bar without the weariness of a boxer in the tenth round. Everyone plucks up tong-fulls of field greens, like bouquets of flowers, so carefree, so light on their feet. I feel heavy as a bear as I climb down the ladder.
We plundered Christmas for all its fruits and joys so many weeks ago. It did not provide back as much as we put into it. We fed it festivity and lights and so much money, and it gave us love and gifts, as well as feelings of finality, loneliness, and tinges of depression. We hunkered down for the long winter ahead. Hibernation is healing. Sleep is restorative.
Except the weather in Maryland is like a narcissistic mother. She is not always outright harsh and frigid. Sometimes she is manipulatively kind, as warm as a spring day. It is sixty-five degrees in the first week of February, and even though I love it, it has a way of making me feel like shit.
I come out of hibernation to finish the deed of Christmas. The final deed is to haul the candy canes and blow mold Santas into the shed, where they will hibernate with spiders and grass seed and scraps of summer. I will be ready for it again in three hundred days, when it will suddenly look born again and exciting to me.
The sun is warm. It feels like Mother Weather kissing me on the forehead. A bird chirps. The old aluminum ladder barely groans as I fold it back up. I am pure again. My soul is no longer muddied with the weight of lapsed holiday decorations. This cleansed feeling, I wonder if this is what it feels like to pray.