By Anthony Ring
Despite the haphazard method our children use to handle fragile and delicate objects, not nearly enough ornaments get broken each year to make a significant difference in the amount of work involved in putting away all the Christmas decorations.
As everyone knows, the undecorating process always takes far longer than the original decorating process. So long, in fact, that we are often still in the process of taking Christmas decorations down in time for the next holiday or presidential election.
Getting the ornaments off the tree isn't the problem. All we have to do is say to the kids, "Ok, now we need you to gently pull the decorations down, and bring them here one at a time, so we can carefully put them away."
This request, of course, results in a steady barrage of ornaments, and hooks, and shattering glass. But it all happens quickly, which is good. The problem actually comes from attempting to fit everything back in whatever box it came from, then safely storing them in the attic, so that they can be taken out the following Christmas to be destroyed.
You would think that there would be room to spare, with all the broken ornaments taking up less space. But you would be overlooking the fact that our decorations seem to multiply somehow during the holidays. Surely other kindergarten parents have experienced this phenomenon. New decorations suddenly just appear on our tree and our walls without warning. I suspect we must have unknowingly put a male decoration too close to a female decoration.
There are also the outside lights to deal with. Every year, the timing is tricky when it comes to removing the roof lights. You have to wait an appropriate amount of time after Christmas to make the attempt, or everyone thinks you are a cranky, heartless old scrooge. But you can't wait too long or people think you are a lazy and irresponsible slacker. So you have to wait for just the right day to come along. For us, it has to be a weekend day. During the week, every minute outside of work is dedicated to caring for our three kids and the housework, with any remaining energy going toward not going insane due to the kids and all the housework. So weekdays are not an option. You also have to worry about the weather.
This year, a somewhat suitable day presented itself, so I decided to take care of the lights. The weather wasn't perfect, but with my luck, there would be no telling when I would get the chance again. It had snowed a week or so before, but it had been kind of warm so I figured the snow was probably all melted off and I climbed up anyway. The bad news - the back half of our roof still had a thin layer of snow from being on the shaded side of the house. The good news - I only almost died twice.
Thankfully, my wife thought to toss me a shovel so I could scrape my way back to the ladder at a reasonable speed instead of using the less ideal method of sliding past it at 30 miles per hour. But the lights are down, so I'm going to go ahead and chalk that up as a success.
Throughout the years, I have learned a few things regarding the de-Santification process:
- No matter how thoroughly you scour the house while undecorating, at some point much later in the year you will inevitably find a construction paper reindeer or snowflake that you've somehow missed for four or five months.
- When you say, "Be very careful with these, they will break very easily," a child hears, "See how many of these you can carry at once while running across the room at top speed."
- Never go onto the roof without a shovel.
Anthony Ring lives in Front Royal with his wife, Sara, and their 3 children. Read more about their adventures at anthonyring.blogspot.com