De-Decorating, It’s in the Bag

Here it is, in writing; my declaration that this is my last year of being the sole decorator. Here’s how it went down a couple of years ago, and I’m still emotionally scarred.
 After hours alone, pushing  pulling, stretching and packing, The Family Members suddenly make their appearances. One by one, of course. They wouldn’t want to be too obvious.
The Boy, as I’m literally putting the last ornament into the last box, emerges, asking if I need help. The Girl, home from college for the holidays, wanders into the kitchen, well past noon for breakfast and deems me a “Grinch” because I made it plain that I am “so over” Christmas. The Husband, older and wiser, makes sure that his entrance is timed perfectly, as I come into the living room from putting – okay, fine… kicking and rolling, the tree into the garage. He makes the proper appreciative noises and appropriate Wonder Woman references on his way to the kitchen for coffee.
 I don’t move from my pouty pirch on the couch, where I’ve over-dramtically flung myself in the hopes that I’ve bought myself an entire day there. Plus, since they’re all in the kitchen, I can only surmise that they have convened around the island are are soundlessly high-fiving each other.  
 This was my morning, as they planned their silent victory:
Saturday, after Christmas: 8: 30 A.M. –  I begin to gather all of the decorations together from the living room, kitchen and dining room and put them on the kitchen island as some sort of a staging area. This should be easy, since I neatly stacked the organizer bins in the garage after I’d unpacked them, for ease of repacking. Okay, well… easy, after I navigate the obstacle course that is our garage during the holidays. 
 Carrying two clear organizer bins over my head, the handle bars to The Boy’s new bike, lying prone on the floor due the absence of a kick stand, still manages to injure me, as I snake past the recycling container, and the old mattress that is leaning against the piano that The Husband had hauled home because it was on the side of the road with a FREE sign on it. He had called me and asked if I wanted a free piano. Duh! Who wouldn’t? Never mind that it took my Dad and his engine cherry picker to dislodge it out of the back of The Husband’s Suburban a few days later.
I digress. Unceremoniously, I dump the organizer bins on the floor next to the island where I begin to wrap things in -recycled, of course- newspaper, and pack them into the bin.  
 Pick up item, wrap, bend, repeat. Wow, this took  45 minutes? It only took me 20 to put it all out, and that included swagging the plastic holly garland over the dining room window and hiding the bent paper clips hooked over the curtain rod.  
  9:45 A.M.- No coffee, and my bathrobe is getting really warm. A repeat visit to the garage to bring in the loaded bins and pick up more empties for the ornaments. Again, hitting my shin on the bike that seems to lie in wait.
 Heaving a sigh, and contemplating my very sad life, I pull ornaments off the tree. First, one by one, because they each have a compartment in the bin. Five minutes later, I’m grabbing them by the handfuls, leaving hooks dangling from wire branches and tossing them into the bin. A grinning picture of The Boy wishing us a “Mery Christmas” in the shape of a mitten from 2004 stops me long enough to ponder why it is that the older they get, the more I’m doing for the holidays.
  I have also now tipped the tree over completely onto the floor so that I can pull the ornaments from the top of the nine foot tree.
 10:20 A.M.- my robe is sticking to me. Ornaments down, its time to unwind the garland, festooned in a vain attempt at hiding the tree’s bald spots like a glittery comb-over. The more I pull to unravel it, the more the tree turns in the direction I’m pulling. Blowing my bangs out of my face, I give a final yank, and the strand of garland comes loose, slightly shaven from the bottle brush-like limbs.
 10:40 A.M.- Wishing I could guarantee that no one would come down the stairs because this robe needs to go. Light removal. Yes, we have a pre-lit tree and yes, all of the bulbs are dead. In very military (read cheap) fashion, we “over came, improvised and adapted” and strung a couple of single-strand lights around the tree. It looks sweetly understated when lit. Upon closer examination, you will see more dead lights than live. It just looks sad, halfway illuminating the ornament with all of our names on it; one, misspelled.
 I begin to unwind the lights. This shouldn’t be so bad. There are only two strands. I grab an end and pull. The tree rotates like a chicken on a rotisserie.  I wind the lights around my hand as more are released from the prickly clutches of the fake tree. One strand down. Diving into the scratchy tree to retrieve the end of the second, I pull again. A few lights come free, but then suddenly, I’m lifting the tree, itself. I know there are easier ways to do this. Say, with more than one person.
 Where are the scissors? About to stalk off to the kitchen for them, one more pull and it comes loose. All of it. At once. The coffee table is my sudden sitting place, but I have the lights off the tree! I put them aside and go to the garage for the bag for the tree.
  11:10 A.M.- Oblivious to anything else, but getting this *&^#% tree into the *&^#% bag, and out of my sight. The tree is nine feet tall. The bag is six, and the tree is stretched out on the floor, looking naked, after someone plied it with too much eggnog. This should make it easier for me dismantle. I pull the stand off the bottom. That’s the easy part. I try not to think that I just pulled off it’s underwear.
 Obviously, I should move to the top of the tree and just pull that off. It’s smaller, and then work back down. I pull. The tree follows. I yank. It follows faster. This isn’t working. I try to locate the joint between the top and the next level, and counter pull. Wow, that’s in there good. Why? It’s not like it’s going to come apart once it’s standing. Or lying down, for that matter. I pull each apart, while simultaneously strangling the tree. That did it. It finally yields. I fold the branches down, umbrella-style, and move to the next level. I have to employ the same strangulation tactic on each of the three levels. Apparently, the tree is in fear of losing it’s life.
 All that’s left to do is umbrella all the levels and put them in the bag. With the stand. And the garland. And the lights. And that one ornament I missed. I grab the lowest and largest level, and put it into the opened bag. Next, the medium, level. The bag doesn’t want it. The umbrella-ing didn’t seem to take as well. I do manage with just brutal force of will to get it into the bag. The top level looks like a well-worn thermos brush, but I cram it in, not caring that the umbrella is half-open. I also realize that the velvet tree skirt is a mess from fake needles as well as the carpet. I stuff it into the bag. Lights. Garland. Ornament.
 The bag now weighs 350 pounds. The zipper is also broken and there is a hole at one end from the year before, when I had first declared it my last year of Christmas decorating, and rammed the first level of tree through the bag.
 I make a feeble attempt at dragging the bag backwards through the living room, and into the hallway before the garage. It doesn’t even come close to moving. I move to the other end, and try to push. I should have eaten breakfast. This is clearly sapping all of my strength.
 Next, I move to the middle and yank it up by it’s open, zipperless flaps like I’m grabbing it by the collar, in “Listen, Buddy. One way or another, you’re coming with me,” style. That seems to jar it loose enough, and I’m able to finally alternately pull, kick, and roll it into the garage.
 Just past the doorway. It is no longer in my jurisdiction. The Husband can deal with it. So, from my couch to yours, I hope you have a very “Mery Christmas” and your de-decorating goes quietly into that good night.
Email Kelly Sinon at [email protected]

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