Christmas past

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once in a while I feel the need to remove some clutter from my life. Paper can become an almost overwhelming albatross in itself! Newspapers, mail, lists and for someone like me, notebooks filled with story ideas soon need a room of their own if I don’t take time to sort and throw away. We all have our Achilles heel, and I find it easy to throw or give some things away, but don’t touch my books or paper!

I have spent a good portion of time this morning going through mail and newspapers that have accumulated during our brief Thanksgiving trip. Satisfied with the bag of garbage at my side I begin to feel that perhaps I might actually have the house ready in time for the first holiday party this weekend. It is worth the extra work for me to enjoy special times with my friends and family.

After my notebooks are rearranged once more, with not one going in the out bag, the place begins to take on some semblance of order. It would be ludicrous to actually throw away all those ideas. They may never come to me in quite the same way again.

Next, the pile of decorations that Mike retrieved from the attic stands waiting. As I carefully unpack each box, almost every bauble holds a special memory. Now, how long have I kept this old raggedy paper chain? The kids have long since grown, and most have children of their own. Is it time to let it go?

My mind wanders to the crisp December day when the kids and I made this paper chain. Their dad was working offshore, and we prepared the house for his return and jolly old Santa’s yearly visit. Our first little house fairly rocked with excitement of the grand events to come!

“OK kids, let’s get the glue and construction paper. Robby, would you like to cut the strips for us? Be careful now. What should we sing, Ryan? Jingle Bells? That’s a great choice! Would you guys like some hot chocolate with marshmallows? Melinda, you are big enough to supervise while I get our snack ready. Won’t Daddy be surprised when he sees what you’ve made for the tree?”

The phone rings interrupting my lovely revelry, but I don’t get up to answer. I just place the chain on the pile of keepers and smile contentedly. A sigh escapes my lips as I recognize the futility of attempting to throw any of my well-worn decorations away. They are old friends that help to keep alive the wonderful remembrances of Christmas past.

Still, there is the clutter; some things I will throw away. Some I’ll give away. But my precious paper chain will join the other treasures on my bedroom tree making it look much like the place of misfit toys in the Christmas classic, “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

Each night as I lay my head to rest a smile will tease my lips as sleep engulfs me. I’ll slumber peacefully in the shadow of a tree filled with worn out decorations and happy memories.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at