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November 28, 2006

Deck the halls and the doors and the cats, if they stand still.

I'm actually decorating for Christmas this year. Wreaths! A tree! Lights on the eaves! Christmas shall arrive at Chez Cat Hair with much sparkling and twinkling and probably a fair amount of "Bob, dammit, GET OUT OF THE TREE."

Decorating for the holidays is usually not the sort of news that warrants a memo and proclamation, especially not if you're a woman who used to place a tiny miniature tree in each room of the house, string the staircase banisters with holly, have your husband haul in a 9-foot Douglas Fir each year the day after Thanksgiving. I would wake up every morning and check on the tree just to inhale the smell of Christmas.

But when that all ended, the holiday season became something untenably frightening, a vast dark pit that could swallow me up. Anxiety that was barely manageable during the daytime would intensify at night and I paced the house, walking room to room until finally I would escape the boxes and memories and the sight of my single, messy, empty life and sit on my patio until dawn. It rained so much that first year, I'd watch the water slink up to the edge of the porch and think of nothing but driving away, anywhere, how to go back in time and make him love me.

There's an opt-out clause on the holidays if you need it (I felt guilty about it back then, but now I see it was just the right thing to do at the time.) I did opt out, two years in a row, puddled into shame and sadness and a lot of rum sans the eggnog. Back then I wouldn't have been able to picture myself wandering the crowded and chaotic aisles of Michael's craft store with Jennifer and buying a red chinaberry wreath and some ribbon for the front door of my little house. But that's exactly what we did a few weeks ago, and I thought of all the new ornaments I get to buy (I let go of all my "married" Christmas stuff, sold it at a yard sale last autumn), wondered out loud what my decorating style will be now with no husband to placate and no one to please but myself.

Later, when we got back to my place, she held up the red wreath to my front door so I could see how it would look and I grinned ear to ear in spite of myself. For all my complaining about Christmas decorations popping up in stores in July (October), I'm secretly excited to make my house look like Santa himself threw up on it. And Drew is coming to visit soon, someone who understands why holidays are so hard for me and why being alone is troublesome at best, and he's cheerfully agreed to be roped into decorating my house, adding his impeccable taste and designer vision to all he touches (which better be the lights hanging from the roof, I'm just saying is all.)

I can't believe this is me. That this is my life. That I will decorate my house for Christmas, and yes, I might feel a little maudlin and wine-drunk that I don't have a non-feline someone to snuggle with under the tree, or who knows, maybe I will have someone, and either way it doesn't make me feel so anxious.

Last year, I said I was going to mail off this box of Mr. X's old Christmas Ornaments, the few things I didn't sell at the Great Purge since they were his before he met me, and it seemed like the right thing to do. I didn't send them last year, I couldn't. I couldn't address that box, write his name, let go of those tiny things that once decorated our Christmas tree. I let go of so much, everything, but when it came time I just put the box in the garage and shut the door.

I mailed it to him yesterday, to his new address where he lives with his new wife. Then I had a glass of wine and made a bow for my new wreath. White, to match the trim on my house.

It's lovely.

Posted by laurie at November 28, 2006 8:56 AM