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December 26, 2007

The Joy and Sadness of Christmas

Tom McLaughlin

Itís almost over. I have just about cleaned out the four-story townhouse and have over 100 boxes of stuff. I say stuff because I was not sure what to throw out and what to keep. Most of the stuff was Momís and Dadís.

I would pick up something, like a worthless piece that protected the dining room table from a hot dish of food. I am sure it has a name but I canít think of it right now. I had to make a decision. The trash bag or the keep box. Then I sat down and remembered all the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys that trivet held. The next thing I knew 20 minutes had passed. And a few tears.

Most of the stuff would be tailings at a yard sale. The stuff no one wanted at sunset. Landfill time. Yet, it was so heavy with emotion. Family feuds, debates, arguments, love, kisses and affection had permeated this junk. A poltergeist had entered the trivet through the pores in the wood. It was speaking to me through the memories it held. Ghosts.

I used to attend auctions; lots of them when the family couldnít agree on who got what and everything had to be sold. Then two individuals would get into a bidding war over an item. Scrabble games going for $70. A cheap table bringing over $125. I now realize people were not bidding on the items but the essence of the memories contained in them. I wonít laugh at them again. I just didnít know.

This Christmas was strange. I was so tired from the packing, lifting the boxes; and the emotions were so heavy. I was exhausted. I didnít decorate. Okay, I did purchase a small fake tree and put it on a table. I didnít wrap any gifts. I bought colorful bags from the Dollar Store and stuffed things into them.

I spent Christmas Eve alone. (Sorry Nancy, I lied) because I wanted to. I had Chinese food for dinner. A beef curry. I took a candle and lit it and placed it at the end of the driveway. I pulled out the Bible, blew off the dust and read the Christmas story. The old one about the three wise men.

I read it a couple of times. Then I put on the Simpsonís movie. I fell asleep in the middle of it, awoke walked the dog and slept fitfully.

This hasnít happened yet but it is my plan. My daughter will be here tomorrow. We will exchange gifts, finish the last floor of the townhouse and then lock the door.

Oh, it will have to be cleaned and then put on the market; but the ghosts will be gone and strangers will traipse through evaluating the place and deciding whether to buy it.

Let me know if you want to have a look. Oceanfront, four floors, completely redecorated: 1.45 mil.

Some advice: Donít clean out your parents house by yourself. Donít do it around Christmas time. Keep a few things, but not much. Just those very heavy items.

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. I know I did. A door closed and three wise men will help me on my next journey. I wonder if they will come with a dromedary.

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