Husband and I have committed the last two weeks before school gets out to going-through, straightening-up, purging the house of Stuff. I have been anticipating and dreading this time ever since we decided to do it. There’s too much of it in the house, this Stuff, and it is part junk, part treasure. Deciding which is a big job I would kind of like to continue avoiding. I am sustaining myself with fantasies of Order, and some kind of clean efficient spareness that is probably impossible, considering the five of us seem to be part hobbit. I also promised myself a new project: sharing some of what I find here on the blog.
Our family seems to have created a new Christmas tradition. Every year, after we box up all the decorations, we find something we forgot. And sometimes instead of just putting the thing away somebody (like me) decides to put it someplace safe, instead, where we will be sure to find it when we need it next year.
Maybe you know that this tactic doesn’t work well.
One year it was the golden needle-like part from the angel chimes we received as a wedding present, the part on which the fan was supposed to balance and spin. For several years now when we get out the chimes for Christmas we discover we are missing the most important part. Every year I remember that I looked for it the year before, only to find it after Christmas was over, after everything was put away again. And every year Husband sticks a toothpick into the chimes to replace the lost part, and we hope we’ll find the real part before we put everything away again.
Now you need to know that there are a few things from my childhood that define Christmas for me: snow, a specific Vienna Boys’ Choir record, my dad’s socks for stockings as well as his dramatic reading of "The Night Before Christmas," lefse (with butter and lots of sugar, please,) angel chimes. Losing track of that one part bothers me, even though it would be easy enough to replace, even though I hardly think of it the rest of the year. That little tinkling sound is almost as important as the tree.
It took me a while to find the missing part this year. About five months, it turns out, but this week I found it. And tonight I went down to the basement and put it away. Next Christmas the angel chimes will be whole again.
This practice of putting things in their place, making things whole—it is good.