Everyday Orinda – January 2022

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Merry Purge-mas

    January’s removal of all evidence of holiday merriment has always been a depressing chore, but this year hostility is creeping in. I’m so over it: wasting an entire day packing boxes, battling my spider-y, cramped attic with the temperamental ladder that could easily cause an untimely demise, dreading the 11 short months before the repeat.
    Yah. I’ve fallen weirdly out of love with most of my Christmas decorations. Fiercely devoted to their upkeep for decades, I have critically eyed half of them this past December like The Bachelor contestants who will not be receiving a rose.
    My armchair analysis suspects this is all 2020’s fault. My former self has been hijacked. 2021 has aged me and suddenly my decorations are looking older and more haggard as well. This year, when I uttered my annual grumble, “Why am I the only one doing any of the decorating?” instead of shrugging it off as motherly martyrdom, I dared to add, “Can’t it still feel like Christmas, without all of the stuff?”
    The purge will commence with the impulse purchases. Spared will be my childhood collection of 1960’s groovy ceramic figurines – holiday mainstays since my earliest cognitive thoughts. Those I will eventually force my daughters to adopt, reinforced by a stipulation in my will that they either take them under their wing and love them, or they won’t see a dime.
    Also marked safe from The Great Purge will be any decorations my dearly departed mother gave us. For a devoted spendthrift, that woman managed to drop a boatload of money on Christmas paraphernalia for my daughters. Now I know why – she too loathed the holiday aftermath and I was not a helpful child. I can hear her laughing from the Great Beyond every January, poking me in the ribs as I’m forced to grumpily pack up another storage box and accept my cosmic payback.
    Then I second-guess my motives. What if my indifference is merely a side effect of two topsy-turvy years? On the other hand, what if I’ve entered a new phase of life, one where I no longer feel as if home should mimic an extremely low-budget rendition of a Macy’s 
window.
    Unfortunately, these decorations hold my emotions hostage. I still shed tears when Rudolph rescues the inmates on the Island of Misfit Toys. I simply cannot throw some of these aging and dilapidated decorations into a box and deposit them at Goodwill, or heaven forbid, in a trash can. These loyal holiday soldiers have put in decades of service, yet are too tattered for resale. Apparently, all these years I have subconsciously told myself, “I will protect these things till I die; then it will become someone else’s problem.”
    And this might work … if I shove all the boxes to the back of the attic and leave them untouched. Otherwise, my minimalist husband, who entertains an insanely unrealistic fantasy of fitting everything he owns into the trunk of his car, is integral to hoisting the numerous boxes back into the attic.
    He’s a loyal and helpful spouse, but I know he resents me in January. Every year, I pacify him with the same excuse: “Next year, I will pare down the decorations. I promise.” And I would. One broken ornament technically counts as paring down.
    I might need a Viking Burial for some of these beloved decorations if I’m to make any real progress. If I could cremate some of my beloved treasures in the fire pit, would this solve my problem or make a giant mess? And would I be right back at Home Goods, restocking the following year?

Mimi Bommarito can be reached at Editor@theorindanews.com.

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