After the uproar over last year’s Christmas letter, I Mrs. Walters have decided to keep this year fairly quiet. I’m just putting up outdoor decorations for the neighbor children because what’s Christmas without them! When my children were little we would drive around marveling at all the wonderful displays. It made this time of year very special and I can’t let the kids down.
Opening the door of the closet under the stairs to dig out the seasonal decorations, I discover I have not been as alone all year as I thought. There are creatures living in my closet! They seem to have other ideas about who owns the contents. One of them wings something past my face and I smash the nearest one in the head with the tree topper. Not without a fight am I giving up my trash! Something thumps my right foot pretty hard – possibly last year’s fruit cake. I grab one by the ear and shake it pretty hard. I tie him up in Christmas lights and toss him out into the hallway. Wading in deeper I seize three more by various body parts and stuff them into an old bird cage. There are two left. The bigger one brandishes a nut cracker. I give it “the teacher” look. The creature drops its weapon and walks to the doorway. The little one follows meekly. The nerve of some goblins. I really need to open that closet up more than once a year. This also explains the socks missing from the laundry. Of course I can’t throw the creatures out in the cold. It’s Christmas. What can I do with a boat load of goblins? I suppose they can have a corner of the basement. It’s much warmer than the closet and brighter and roomier. I open the cellar door and point.
“We can’t go down there. The trolls will get us.” The one wearing Christmas lights squeaks.
“I’ll deal with the trolls.” I make my way into the basement. Trolls? I have trolls in my basement? I really have to get down here more often. I poke around and while I find evidence of trolls having been here they’re gone for now. Probably went south for the winter. Smarty pants! I trudge back up the stairs. “They’re gone. You can stay until Spring or you find a better place not in my house.” They grumble a bit and then move their things from the closet to the basement.
Getting back to my original task, I inventory the wreckage revealing I have two spiral trees in good shape and one questionable. They’ll have to do with the lights I left up from last year. Hey! As long as I don’t turn them on no one can tell they’re there. All I have to do is get out the extension cord to hook them up to the outside socket and away we go.
So now I need my shoes and a jacket and we are good to go. I check the temp. It’s 27° F out there. Okay, where did I put the foot wear? They are not by the front or back doors. In the bathroom? Nope! Could they be by my chair in front of the TV? Not there! I remember wearing them into the bedroom and sitting on the bed to take them off.
“Tootsie! Tootsie! Sweetie what did you do with mommy’s shoes?” He does not respond. I crick and crack my way down to the floor and, kneeling gingerly on my arthritic knees, I peek under the bed. Oh yes there are mommy’s shoes and there and there and a bit over there. Someone has found himself a new chewy toy. I also see my cross trainers are under there missing their laces. Could this be in retaliation for the hot dog costume at Halloween? I liked that potato chip hat! Meanwhile I have to wear something to put this stuff up. I climb back up from the floor and look to the shoe rack I keep forgetting to set up. My eyes find my sandals resting on top of the box. I suppose they will have to do.
Jacket. Jacket and I am ready. I limp to the dining room and find it on the floor with Tootsie Too sleeping on top. I reach down to grab it and then think about the old saying it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Hmm why do they say that? I envision startling the dog and having it rise up with slashing, pointy teeth. Perhaps the old ones have a point. Can I afford to lose any more shoes? Straightening up I make my way outside with the boxes for the trees and the extension cords.
It is cold out here. Not weather for t-shirt and sandals. Maybe if I hurry the friction of moving against the wind will provide warmth? Okay I’m stupid. Let’s get this done fast! I pull the first spiral tree from the box and fit the pieces together perfectly setting it in place. Record time yes! Pulling the second tree from its box, it quickly rises beside the first. Nice.
Maybe I should test the tree lights. I plug them into the electric cord and into the outside socket. Nothing. Oh yeah! Al set that one up on a switch inside so we wouldn’t have to go out in the weather to turn everything on. I return to the house and flip the switch. Lights! Yes lovely! I decide to see if the lights from last year are working. I take the other cord and plug them in. Wonderful! Many twinkling colors of light wink at me from the small evergreen tree.
Great! We are cooking right along at a record pace. I’m not frozen yet! Now for the ratty tree. I dig it from the box and set it on the ground. I put the rods together and go to set the bottom one into the base. Not working. There’s no plug there to set it in. I wrestle with the tree and let’s just jam it into the ground. Frozen ground. The thing falls over. What if I move it just a couple of feet over? I can entangle it in the branches of the cherry tree. Ah that works. It leans a bit but oh well. I plug it in and realize only the white and blue lights are working. It will have to do. It’s monumentally cold out here.
I step out into the front yard and take in the pathetic view. Al would have done it all up so much better with a blow up Santa and snowman, angels seeming to sing merrily next to reindeer, one with a glowing nose, all placed in the middle of the front yard. But he isn’t here and it’s just me. This is the best I can do. I start to cry. Lex my gargoyle guardian hops over and puts his wing around my leg in a hug. He looks up at me and smiles. He writes “pretty” in the frozen grass. He likes it. I can tell he likes it from what I’m reading in his mind. He really and truly likes it. Maybe it’s not so bad. It’s simple and simple’s good isn’t it? I could go shopping and get some more things. Maybe I could get a hat and scarf for Lex. It is really cold out here. Maybe I just made the place he stands on guard a little nicer for him. Isn’t that what Christmas is about? Making things a little better for someone?
“Come on Lex let’s go inside. We’ll get a cup of tea, some Christmas cookies my sister sent and bacon slices. Share them with Tootsie Too. We could invite the goblins up. Maybe we can shop for a nice warm dog bed and some chewy toys.”
I have to stop thinking about things in terms of what Al would do. He’s gone and it’s all on me now. I have to let him go. It’s my choice about how to live and do things. I stand up straighter and run for the door and the warm house.