Following Christmas

For my far-flung family Christmas means the mailing of many packages. Some of the cartons have been used for years, have crossed the country many times, and have so many pairs of crossed-out addresses on them I can only congratulate the mailman for figuring out where they were going, versus where they were coming from. Maybe we should have left the addresses alone and just pasted on big arrows for every change of direction.

Some of the boxes have been disassembled, turned inside out, and taped back together for a set of fresh downs. Forgive me for that, I’ve acclimatized to Ann Arbor.

As each box appears, I approach with my very careful utility knife. Bubble wrap and packing paper explode across the room, revealing a stash of wrapped gifts wearing tags and ribbons I have seen before.

finally room for the cat

Finally room under the tree for the cat

On Christmas morning we find the new gifts inside are nestled into old familiar tissue paper, creases running through angels, trees, and peppermint stripes. Well-traveled shirt boxes limp a little at the corners, supported by bits of tape. I roll up the ribbons, collect the tags, smooth out the tissue, fold the boxes flat, and pick over the wrapping paper for usable centers and bits to save. The gifts will stay here, but the materials of their transport have eleven months of rest ahead of them, and will be on their way again.

Something old, something new, and one perpetually changing into the other. As Christmas turns into the New Year I make more room on shelves and tables, drawers and closets, and the new things settle in and become familiar.

Happy New Year!

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