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» Saturday, January 12, 2013Can't See the House for the Trees
James said to me Thursday night, "What are your plans for tomorrow?" I answered: "Deforestation."
Let's rewind a bit. Christmastide and Epiphany being over, it was time for the melancholy to commence and for the decorations to return to hibernation (I tell Schuyler this with a straight face: if the Christmas tree doesn't hibernate until next year, it loses its Christmas magic). Monday I was back to work and it took me two hours just to wade through accumulated e-mail. (Eighty percent of it was junk mail, too.) Tuesday I teleworked, and, although there was plenty of work to keep me busy, there was lunch hour and after work to accomplish taking down and boxing the ceppo, plus the small things on the kitchen shelf. Then I took a few things off the new dining room shelves and containerized them. Next I boxed up the Rudolph stuffed figures and the "Peanuts" band and the few other knicknacks on the TV stand with the mantel garland, deer, Christmas card string, and berry wreath, and then containerized the woodland tree ornaments and its surrounding decorations (the tree itself goes in the box with the library tree and the airplane tree). Finally, I boxed up the Christmas stuffed animals, two pillows, and the throw. This sounds like it would really take a long time, but putting away is much easier than putting up because you must make them look pretty when you set up. Putting away is just folding, rolling, and tucking!
I did do something at lunch I had needed to do. I had five village figurines that had grey bases instead of white ones, like the rest of the figurines, so I painted them with Plaid white and then sprinkled them with a glitter that has the look of snowflakes. They were tiny bases and my brush made quick work of it.
Wednesday I was back to the office with some calculation to do: since the President had given us Christmas Eve off, anyone who took leave on that day got the leave back. I had five hours of "use or lose" (literally—you either take the time off or you forfeit it) left, and had thought about taking it Friday, with three other hours to make the day. Instead now I had eight more hours to contend with. But for my "deforestation" project, it was perfect. I submitted a leave slip for Friday, then had to decide to do with the rest. In the end, I donated two hours to the leave donation program (people who are out on emergency leave and have run out of leave days of their own) and took the other three Thursday afternoon.
This gave me time to get the Rudolph tree down and boxed (also Schuyler's decorations). I'm a lazy bum with the Rudolph tree; now that it's decorated all I do is wrap bubble wrap around it tightly and tape it, and then lay it in the box. Next year I just put it up, unwrap it, and straighten out what's come loose.
Next I took all the decorations out of the spare room and put them up, then started on the long haul, clearing the kitchen and dining room. This takes time because I must divest the feather tree (1950s ornaments), the "1910 tree" (little one with vintage looking but plastic ornaments), the gingerbread shelves in the kitchen, all the little odds and ends put up (like kitchen magnets), the pass-through "prim" decorations, and the decorations on the table and the console. The hard part is getting it all to fit back into the box!
I also took down all the door wreaths upstairs and replaced them with the usual fall-themed wreaths, and took the window candles down, then took that box downstairs and did the same thing downstairs. Finally I boxed up the village while James was cooking. Again, hardest part is taking the buildings down and separating them with bubble wrap. The little figures are then set in the space left in the center, and the trees gathered up and put in another pile.
Friday I slept in as late as I dared. I threw caution and my arthritis to the wind and just did it. Started at nine and ended at five, taking an hour break for lunch. It wasn't the most pleasant of days to be taking down decorations, as a warm front was moving in. I already had most of the windows open. This is why I started by taking down the decorations down in the foyer first, since it would be the warmest there later on. Every time I went upstairs, I would get to the third step from the top and the humid, warm air would hit me in the face like a wet washcloth. Upstairs my slippered feet were sticking to the carpeting. Ugh.
In progression, I took down the space tree (literally, since it was mounted to the wall!), putting the ornaments into boxes and putting all those boxes into a larger box that I use simply for decoration, thereby making use of it twice. Then, whoosh, I flew through the airplane tree (well, not that fast, as some of those ornaments are pretty fragile) and put the little candlestick lamp back on that table and reset the timer, which I have on when we leave for work and again when we come home, as it's pretty dark down there on those early mornings and on rainy evenings.
Finally it was time to tackle the library tree and library decorations (and manage to fit them all back into the same boxes...LOL). I was actually astonished that I managed to do this at all, since the airplane tree and the woodland tree also go in that box.
At noon I decided to eat something and take a break, and decide whether I wanted to take down the main tree. I had some toast (I see A Discovery of Witches still has me under a spell), then took three Ibuprofin and lay down for a half hour, and decided at 1:45...let's go for it. I got done at five o'clock. It took me a bit longer than usual because I put new hooks on every single ornament (about 215 of them). Some of the hooks were awful, cheap ones I got...somewhere, really thin wire, less than 26 gauge, I think—I have stronger floral wire! The new hooks were green, bought at Walgreens after Christmas at half price. The longer ones were so-so, but the short ones appeared sturdy.
At 4:30 I was finally at the back of the tree and gave James a call, wondering if he would pick up Chinese at Dragon. By the time he got home with the Sa-Cha beef (his) and the pork fried rice (mine), I was finished, and pretty exhausted. I would have quit there, but the job's not over until it's over. After dinner, James helped me lug all the boxes still upstairs downstairs to the storage closet and put them up on shelves in their proper order, then struggled with getting the tree down the stairs and through that narrow closet door. We covered it with its plastic cover, and then pushed it into the corner, where I'd already propped up the space tree and its corresponding extension cord and timer. (With the tree down, I could also finish removing the decorations that were on the divider to the open foyer and the garland hung underneath with "Bandit's angels" on them. These were tucked away in the space left in one of the boxes, and put away before the tree.)
We had ice cream for dessert to reward ourselves, and then I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and at least vacuumed the living room area so we could put the rocking chair back into its place in the corner where the tree had been.
And when James brought the big white board that sits on the mantelpiece to hold the village downstairs and put that up in the closet, we were done, done, done!
Of course the rest of the carpet was still a wreck, with "pine needles" and tinsel and bits of glitter everywhere. I dispatched that early this morning, starting upstairs with the bedrooms, then the dining room, then the stairs, working my way down to the foyer and then the hallway, and finally down to the library, where I moved the rocker and hassock and end table back into place, and vacuumed, vacuumed, vacuumed until it was all done.
Now to put up the winter decorations...LOL.