This is the part of Christmas I hate. The clearing up.
Today is the day for taking the decorations down. If you leave them up any longer, its supposed to be bad luck. And since I don’t want any more bad stuff in my life for a good while, I’m diligently stripping the tree, just to be on the safe side.
Once all the cards and baubles are gone, the place looks rather sad and naked. Empty. You can see where all the dust and cobwebs have built up. (I’m leaving the hoovering and dusting till tomorrow, so I don’t use up all my strength in one day.) It looks especially empty this year because we made such an effort to bring that Christmas magic back into the house. The first annual holiday without a loved one (in this case, my mother-in-law) is always a tough one, and especially so for my Husband this year, because his mother was such an enthusiast for the season, such an integral part of the family’s celebrations. We had to make a particular effort to reclaim it not only from grief, but from the difficult memories of the last few Christmases spent in the shadow of her Alzheimers disease.
I think we managed it (mostly). At least, I’m pretty sure it could have been a lot worse. And when I came downstairs one evening and found him lying on his back on the sofa, gazing at the twinkling lights on the tree and listening to the soft music of Vaughn Williams, relaxed for the first time in months, I decided we’d found a reasonably happy medium.
Now the Yuletide festical is over, and we have to face the stark reality of a future year, the uncertainties of Brexit and Trump, as well as clearing out and selling the home of a loved one. However, I don’t feel as desolate as I thought I would.
I always said I was a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. You know the old adage, the one about looking at a glass with some water in it, and choosing to be optimistic about there still being something left to drink, or being pessimistic about the fact that its half gone. The joke I heard recently about, ‘well, there’s plenty of space for more vodka’ seems to chime with how I feel today.
The house may feel bald and empty, but now there is space to fill it with new things. Good things. Things we can choose together, not the baggage of caring for someone with dementia, of watching her suffering, and of our own powerlessness to help. There is new opportunity in the space that is left, both by the decorations and the lifting of the burden of caring. And we get to choose what we fill it with.
Which is quite exciting when you think about it.
(Think of all the writing and painting I’m going to get done!)
So don’t look at your dusty, de-Christmassed home in dismay today. Look for the gaps in between, the space for possibility. Don’t mourn the loss of Christmas. Think to yourself, in your best Mary Poppins tone, ‘well, what shall I do today?’