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Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York.
The holidays are always colorful times. Between the multicolored lights adorning most of our homes and the vibrant Christmas trees that traditionally are placed in the middle of our favorite rooms, the holiday season is one we all look forward to. But, then it has to end, which means there comes a time when we have to take all those ornaments down.
My wife and I have a system we use for all of the 40-something years of our lives together. She has the responsibility to take down and carefully wrap all the Christmas trinkets we have collected together. She wraps each and every one in new tissue paper before she stores them away for another year. She even bought special red and green plastic boxes so her treasures would look as new as they did when she made them. Yes, I said made them. Decades before my wife took some time out of her young life and made little dough ornaments that still adorn our Christmas tree. At the time I thought she was nuts but everyone, and I mean everyone who visits our home is astounded by how wonderful our Christmas tree is.
I, on the other hand, am responsible for taking down all the outside ornaments and the lights that shine over all of our windows during the Christmas season. After Thanksgiving, which is the traditional start to lighting up our homes to the point of making them look like something out of the Las Vegas strip tripling our electric bills to the point of having to spread them out over the next three months, is the launch point of the holiday season. The weather is pretty good this time of year because the temperature rarely hits the freezing point and the possibility of snow is weak. In fact, most of us hope for snow because the first snow of the season is as loved as the last one is hated.
It is easy to put the Christmas ornaments up. The reindeer that stands near our front walk is attached to the ground by two steel rods that easily go into the ground so the early winter winds do not blow it down. The lights hung throughout my trees and around the perimeter of my home go up easily because there is little weather outside to complicate its arrival.
Removing the Christmas decorations in January is a whole different story. The magic of the season is as over as any money that was left in my wallet and the concept of gentle early winter breezes are replaced by the reality of icy cold winter winds.
The first thing I have to remove from the front of my house is the reindeer that earlier I was proud to report had never been blown over. In years past, attempting to remove the two steel rods that successfully held it in place was like trying to remove the North Pole from the center of the Earth. As much as I tried it would not budge. A couple of times I thought I heard it break loose but because I now live on a daily regimen of Advil I now know it was not the rods but what used to be my straight back.
Since the temperature had turned from a balmy 45 degrees to a tundra-like 8 degrees, the earth in front of my home would not release the rods. I did everything from use a plumber’s wrench to try and turn them out of the ground. Then by some miracle from a saint in heaven who must have felt pity on me I felt something give. Ecstatically thinking my work was complete, I pulled up half a rod. In reality all I did was snap the rod in half, giving up the bottom half only to be found by my soon to be dying lawn mower on some spring afternoon.
The Christmas lights decorating my home were another problem. Before Thanksgiving it was easy wrapping them around the limbs of my trees. It only took a couple of staples to attach them to the perimeter of my home. Now that the weather took a turn to the dark side the lights seemed to be attached by some miracle super glue of the future. No matter how much I tried to heat the limb with my hand’s body temperature it would not release the lights that were stuck to them. After a couple of hours I was able to retrieve most of them.
The holidays are always colorful times. This year, I may put a plastic rabbit in the wagon that is still decorated with torn and pinkish ribbon. The problem is I sometimes wonder if they are really worth it.