He's right. It's time I stood up at the local Holiday Hoarders Anonymous meeting and admitted the truth to the world. "Hello, my name is Marcia, and I'm a holiday hoarder..."
My obsession started with my first Sesame Street ornament---Cookie Monster---a gift from my father when I was twelve. A joke at the time, but now a sentimental reminder of a great man who was so loved and now gone.
FRONT YARD DECORATIONS
This is what my husband despises most. It is the reason he becomes the Grinch and Scrooge all wrapped into one. Our power company sends us a thank you note every holiday season for the amount of lights we use in our yard. Decorations such as a lighted reindeer pulling a sleigh were carefully packed away last season---INTACT. Yet this year when we open the box, our reindeer is now a pile of antlers and hooves. I think that it, along with all the other holiday decorations, intentionally retaliates by knotting itself up during the long, summer months stored in a hot attic.
And then there is the issue of the lights. Strands and strands of them---once packaged in a neat coil, now a tangled mess that NO ONE wants to deal with. They were working fine last year when we packed them away. They were still working fine when we took them out of the box this year....when we wrapped them around all of our trees, across the roof and around every front window of the house. We stood back when we were finished, admired the yard, did a few "high fives" and patted each other on the back for a job well done.
An hour later, only half of the strand of lights on the roof stayed lit. The white icicles across the porch flickered a moment, as if gasping for breath before fizzling out. Even the twinkling angel on the front lawn has a droopy wing and the lights on the other wing were completely burned out. That's what we get for buying our lights at a dollar store. We have no choice but to schlepp to the local Walmart for more lights, but by then the pickings are slim. I don't want neon beer can lights decorating the front of my house. The alternative is to purchase those giant, inflatable lawn decorations that look like Macy's Day Parade rejects. At night they're not so bad---glowing and erect as if they've been given a high dose of Viagra, but come morning after they deflate---they look more like fiesta-colored condoms strewn across the yard.
This is just as bad as the outside decor. Remember the fiber optics craze? Yeah, well so do I, because I collected every Santa, snowman, sled, elf, Christmas tree and reindeer that sparkled, dazzled, danced and sang a cheery, holiday tune. I also have an entire village of little porcelain houses that my husband would like to pillage. What drives him to drink gallons of spiked egg nog this time of year is the cartons of decorations labeled "Assembly Required." On a particularly bad day, he'll claim that these boxes are grounds for divorce.
"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How Steadfast Are Your Branches!" Not for my husband. He breaks out in a sweat just contemplating endless hours of affixing lights and delicate ornaments to sappy pine tree branches. So much so that he convinced us to break tradition this year and switch to the dark side by purchasing a faux tree. Yup. I've got an artificial tree from China, not the mountains of North Carolina. The silver lining in all of this? No more pine needles to clog up the vacuum. I was still sucking up those little escape artists on the 4th of July last year.
The worst of my hoarding habit is my ornament collection. Hundreds---no, THOUSANDS---lie nestled in layers of crumpled tissues. At this point my husband is willing to dig a large hole in our backyard and tunnel his way to China in order to avoid a day with Bing Crosby, Perry Como and me, decorating our lovely tree. He is terrified that history will repeat itself---the day we NEVER speak of---THE DAY THE TREE FELL DOWN....when all of my expensive, sentimental ornaments were reduced to glass shards scattered across a hardwood floor. Now we tie that sucker to the ceiling with endless loops of fishing line and guard it like it was Fort Knox. If my husband had his way, all those fragile, glass ornaments would be replaced by rubber ones. Ever see an ornament double as a tennis ball? You get the idea.
THE DAY WE PACK IT ALL AWAY
This is the hardest part. I'm torn between feeling relief at dispensing all the holiday clutter and wanting to cling to the sentimentality of the season. Fitting everything back into the boxes from whence they came is the REAL challenge. There always seems to be more items than what we started off with. And everything has to be disassembled---you need a degree in Engineering in order to fit the decorations back into their original boxes.
Once everything has been stored and the attic door closed, it's inevitable that we will find a few stray items that were left behind in our weary state of packing. We are forced to schlepp back to Walmart for more Rubbermaid containers. As I am contemplating the aisles of Christmas decorations marked 50% off, my husband is contemplating divorce....or maybe just converting to Judaism. After all, how much room does a menorah take?