The big wrap up

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 17, 2016 7:44 PM

A storm blew in last night. Earlier in the evening, the winds had been strong, so strong that we had trouble keeping the grill lit. It continued until we went to bed and through the early morning hours. Right after 2 am, the winds became even stronger. We had the window open in the bedroom, the cool air nice but becoming too cold. We listened as the wind chimes whipped and clanged. The howl of the wind through the desert is an eerie, almost ghostly thing to listen to. Frightening and mesmerizing all at once. Soon enough, the rain began, pinging the glass of the skylight and then the windows of the bedroom. We tossed and turned, trying to sleep, but the noise of nature was deafening.

At 3:30, I finally got up and closed the window. It muffled the sound but didn’t eliminate it. We both drifted in and out of sleep. The occasional clang and bang of something outside would jar us suddenly awake and we’d both whisper “what was that?” Neither of us wanted to get up and investigate. One of the chairs on the deck just outside our bedroom took flight and slammed against the railing, coming to a rest upside down. I wondered how the furniture on the main deck was faring, if the pillows on the couches had been swirled up into the atmosphere and deposited somewhere down amongst the cactus. At 8 am, the other chair on our bedroom deck slid across to join its mate and I woke up from a deep and restless sleep. I was in the middle of a not very good dream, and it took me a minute to get my bearings. Riley was curled up on his bed at the foot of ours; Kevin was gone. I hadn’t heard or felt him leave.

He brought me coffee after I called out to him – “Kevy?” – and thus the day began.

It was still cold, though the winds were more respectful. A blanket of cold fog hung over the valley. Kevin didn’t work outside today as he often does on Saturdays. We had actually discussed it last night in front of the fire. We have guests coming next week, and there are things we want to do in the house. His time would be better spent inside than out. As it turned out, he couldn’t have worked outside anyway. All’s well that plans well. 

As he busied himself doing things like painting the television insets above the fireplaces, replacing lightbulbs, and getting the fireplaces ready, I finally got some Christmas cards ready to send. I don’t send many these days, mostly just to family. To all my friends and colleagues, I usually do a fun electronic message. How modern of me. 

After that was done, and before I started work (because even though it’s the holidays, clients still want their stuff), I decided to also wrap some presents. I have things that need to ship and because I am once again and forever behind, it’s going to cost me a fortune. This happens to me every Christmas. I always have good intentions. Those intentions never seem to make it to realities. Oh well. 

I organized according to what was going to who (whom?), pulled the wrapping paper rolls from the closet along with the new batch of to/from tags I bought yesterday, and wrapped. I love to wrap presents. I find it soothing, and pretty. I’ve always felt this way. One of my jobs in high school was in a pharmacy in town that had quite a gift selection. At the holidays, I became the de facto wrapper because I liked it and I did it well. 

My mother called the other night to ask me if I could come home and wrap presents for her. I used to do that every year when I lived at home or came home for Christmas. I haven’t done that in a long time. As nice as it would be, travel is too difficult at the holidays, and so we stay here. She even offered, teasingly, to pay my airfare if I’d promise to wrap. We laughed and then talked instead about what everyone was doing on Christmas day. 

Today I boxed my gifts for sending. I put some under the tree. There is more to do, there always is. But I made progress. And then I started back to work. It was a Saturday spent living it out loud from the wee hours and on through the day.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 14, 2016 9:17 PM

Back in 2001 or 2002, or maybe it was 2003, Kevin joined together with Roy and Bobbi, as well as another marketing person, and they rented space in Chatsworth. They took an old warehouse office and transformed it into something extraordinary. It had a lovely reception area, an office, and a conference room. The back was one big empty space that quickly went from being wall-less to having walls, which Kevin constructed and the rest of us painted. The walls served to create individual open offices, as the ceilings were high and none had any doors. We built a kitchen, bought, stained and hung cabinets. We got a refrigerator and a microwave. Roy had the far back of the space which he took over with his artwork; Bobbi had a space near his. Across from them was another open area where the printer and fax were. There was also a big table used for all manner of art, graphics, assembly, etc. Kevin’s office was next to Bobbi’s. It was quite the set up.

That year, whatever it was, we had an office warming/Christmas party. For the front window, in the reception area, I found an old aluminum tree, from the 60s, on eBay. We put purple lights one it and hung antique ornaments. It was gloriously retro, ought-chic. It was the only time we used the tree, if I remember correctly. I don’t even know what happened to it. Maybe Bobbi still has it. I think maybe one year they put it up in their house, but I could be misremembering. I think maybe there’s a photo of Bobbi, Kae and I in front of the tree. 

Two weeks ago, I put up our tree. It’s 13 feet tall, artificial. It’s gorgeous. I strung it with mostly white lights and sprinkled in two or maybe it was three strands of multi-colored lights. I also strung our grape clusters, which glow red because they’re red grapes because we’re red wine drinkers. We don’t have any ornaments on it because I just haven’t gotten around to it. But it’s up and it’s beautiful. You can see it from down below and it looks very festive.

I also put out my big Santa, a guy my mom and sister got me years ago. He was originally part of a display in some store somewhere but Mom and Khris managed to get the store owner to sell and sent him to me. I think that’s what happened but I could be misremembering. He’s standing in the corner of the foyer, next to the window next to the door. He’s a good greeter. 

On the hearth, I have the Karen Didion wine Santa that Kevin got me years ago. He’s another favorite. Gorgeous in his tapestry coat, carrying grapes and wine bottles and signs. Both of these Santas have some girth to them; they add some substance to the room, as does the tree. They are currently my only decorations. But they’re Christmasy and pretty and make me feel a bit more festive. 

The song Blue Christmas was originally sung by Elvis Presley. I prefer the Celine Dion version mostly because I was never a huge Elvis fan. The lyrics sing, in part: “Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree.” 

I have that. It’s not the same as decorations of purple on an aluminum Christmas tree but it very pretty, very festive. I’m feeling the spirit surround me.

At least until I unplug the lights and go to bed.

Tags: , ,

live out loud

And so I'm offering

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 11, 2016 7:54 PM

Possibility. Hope. Joy? I have decided that these last weeks of the year are going to be filled with cheer. Yes I know that rhymes. But I'm feeling strangely poetic this morning. And I love the holidays.

I have been filled with anger now for a month. I know I'm not alone. My anger fluctuates between seething and settled. There has been hatred wrapped around my heart and it hurts. I have never felt this way. I don't anticipate that it will go away anytime soon and not for years. But I have come to realize that I need to find somewhere to put it, at least for these last weeks, because I love Christmas. I love the spirit of it, no matter how fleeting.

And so I'm offering a temporary cease fire. The cease fire will continue through January 1, unless, of course, the other side does something so horrific that I have to return fire. I am not completely convinced that it will happen but I'm trying.

I'm offering myself if not regular readers a respite, however brief, from my diatribes. It's exhausting being this angry all the time. Though I know it's also cathartic. And it shows that I have passion, that I care. That we, collectively, care. This is not about sour grapes and hurt feelings. No, this is about fear and disgust and despair for where many of us perceive that we're heading as a country. Backwards and into oblivion, and irrelevance. When the guns and ammo of the most powerful nation on the planet have been placed in the hands of a petulant toddler, it can't end in anything other than a tantrum.

When I was little I was prone to tantrums. My mother used to walk away from me as I lay on the floor of a store, kicking and screaming, beating my fists, face red. I was 2. It's what 2-year-olds do. Imagine the destruction I could have wreaked with missiles available to my clenched little fists.

And so I'm offering a day, a week, two to listen to my favorite music, a surprisingly small portfolio of songs done in a myriad of ways. I'm going to turn up the volume - except when it's Barry Manilow or the Carpenters - and I'm going to make merry. Dammit.

I'm going to eat and drink and spend time with my husband and dog, with friends. I'll talk with my family and wish we were all together. I’ll miss my kid. I'm going to wrap presents and place them under the tree. I'm going to sing badly.

My sister's tree; my sister's photo

And so I'm offering this simple phrase, sung by everyone from the late, great Nat King Cole to the not so great Clay Aiken. To kids from one to ninety two. Although it's been said many times many ways. Merry Christmas to you. To me. To all except he who will not be named.

And so that’s what I'm offering. Let's celebrate. Let's live it out loud while we still can.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

The tradition of New Year's Day

by Lorin Michel Friday, January 1, 2016 6:00 PM

I'm not entirely sure when it started but I remember a New Year's Eve many years ago, maybe as long ago as 1998 or 1999. In those days we sort of celebrated New Year's. I say sort of because we'd always did lobster and we'd always had at least one couple over. Often times it was Roy and Bobbi. We'd buy the lobsters locally. Kevin would cook them. I used to cook lobster by the crate when I was in college and it never bothered me. It started bothering me when Justin came into my life.

It always freaked Bobbi out, having an entire lobster on her plate. She didn't like the eyes. Kevin used to fabricate tiny paper sunglasses and put them on her lobster. I'm not sure it mitigated the issue but it sure made it funnier. 

On that particular New Year's Eve day, we woke up to pouring rain. Torrential. It was lovely even though we knew we had to go out to get the lobster as well as other stuff. I remember that we also needed to go to Costco; I don't remember why. I do remember that we were in no hurry to go out so we grabbed the remote, snuggled down under the covers and watched The Twilight Zone.

Every year, SyFy runs a marathon of the quintessential science fiction series, one I had never watched until that morning. I had seen snippets over the years; it was often running on late night. For some reason, the sound of the rain, the dark gray of the day, the warm of the covers made watching episode after episode after episode of the creepy, moralistic black and white show the perfect way to wile away the morning. Eventually we had to get up and go out into the wet cold, but a tradition was born. 

Every New Year's Day I de-Christmas the house. The Byers Choice Carolers, my beautiful collection, get carefully put away for the year. I take them all down from where they are in the great room and put them on the coffee table. I pull out the cases I keep them in throughout the year and I pack them according to height (some are taller and need the taller case). This takes a surprisingly long time. Once they're done, I tackle the tree. As it's artificial it comes apart in sections and requires two big boxes. I take off the lights. This year I put two birds at the top so naturally I'll remove those; also the ribbon I wrapped around it because I didn’t know where my ornaments were. Everything will get boxed and carted out to the garage. 

This year we had a wreath that I need to de-light. The wreath is fresh so it will get tossed. There is also a small lighted tree on the hearth. Justin sent it last year. That will get collapsed and boxed, as will the big Santa my mom and sister bought me years ago, and the Karen Didion wine Santa that Kevin bought. All boxed and put into the storage unit in the garage (except the Carolers - they stay in a closet in the house) 

Then I clean. Then I put back the various objects I had to move to other places to make room for the Christmas stuff. The house will once again be back to normal, ready for the next 11 months before I re-Christmas the house.

All day, as I go about my task, I'll have The Twilight Zone marathon on. I'll mostly listen and occasionally glance up to see what star who wasn't yet a star is starring. I love the juxtaposition and the symbolism. Christmas meets Rod Serling. I bet there's at least one episode of weirdness that will show just how odd and strange it is to have the pseudo horror of The Twilight Zone and the complete magic of Christmas in the same room. That's a celebration I'd watch, and will, all this New Year's Day. 

A theory on why I never get enough done in a day

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 17, 2015 7:39 PM

Nearly every night I say this to my husband: “I am forever amazed by the sheer amount of sh!t I don’t get done in a day.” It’s the kind of phrase that is simply a statement, not meant for discussion. If it was a question, it would be rhetorical. I am forever amazed. I am also forever amazed that it seems to happen almost daily. The frequency of my not-getting-doneness has increased exponentially. 

I said it last night as I was shaking my head. I was practically muttering, like an old person walking down the street looking down at the sidewalk, talking to herself incoherently. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like an old person mostly because I’m not sleeping well and not sleeping well can make a person feel ancient. Kevin was walking from the kitchen to his office. I was at the other end of the bar, looking at my never-ending to do list, shaking my head in disbelief, knowing that I wouldn’t sleep again because I’m not getting enough done in any given day. He stopped. He turned. He came back to the bar and placed his hands on the edge, like he was at a lectern.

“It’s more than amazing,” he said. “It’s disgusting. What do we do all day that enables us to never get anything done?”

We started talking about what it is that allows us to start work at 7 am and work through until at least 6:30 pm, with a short break for lunch, and still not complete enough to make us feel accomplished come quittin’ time, a time in this house which is a bit of a misnomer because we don’t ever truly quit until it’s time to go to bed. 

So what is it?

It could be that there's too much to do. It could also be that I haven't been sleeping well which leads to interruptions in concentration also known as brain fog, a malady made even worse because of hot flashes. Power surges. 

Perhaps it's that I'm easily distracted. Ooh. Shiny! Or that we get pulled into different expected and unexpected projects. Yesterday the expected project was the installation of our solar system. We knew that it was happening, hence the expected, but there were still conversations we needed to have with the installers, things we needed to move, to approve. It took up at least 3 hours of our time. Today it was getting Lorin a new computer. Best Buy was having a flash sale and since I’ve been considering it for some time, we thought now might be ideal. It was the best price we’d seen on the MacBook Pro that I want. But it takes time to discuss and to make the decision. Do we really want to spend the money? Should I try to limp along with my current machine which admittedly has issues? And then, after the discussion had worn down, there was the time it took to buy it, even online. There's a process. You have to create an account, enter all of your pertinent information, decide which card to use. Do I want it shipped or should we go get it? What about software?

There are any number of reasons why each day ends without me feeling especially accomplished; with me repeating the same tired phrase. All of the above are good and valid. But I have a theory. I think the real reason is this:

I’d really rather be sitting in my Adirondack chairs, enjoying the view and living it out loud.

A little Christmas cheer

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 6, 2015 7:37 PM

Yesterday, I officially began decorating for Christmas. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I don’t like to do it until Thanksgiving weekend, and last weekend we were away. So yesterday, I pulled out the two boxes that held our new, as-yet-unseen Christmas tree and started spreading the cheer.

For years, we’ve had an artificial tree. I bought it when Justin was in high school and worked at a place called Do It Center. It’s a smaller, more civilized version of Home Depot, much like Ace Hardware but not as complete. I got a discount because my kid worked there and they had a pretty decent selection of Christmas trees. We always had real trees. Both Kevin and I grew up when getting the Christmas tree was an annual family pilgrimage. We didn’t traipse off into the forest like they did on The Waltons. We went to a Christmas tree farm. They have Christmas tree farms in California, too. It’s a little strange the first time you visit one if you’ve grown up in the Midwest or North East. Searching for and cutting down a tree in shorts and a tee-shirt? Who knew that pine needles could be so itchy.

The year I bought the artificial tree was the year Kevin was doing his best Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation. I have no idea what set him off but he was grumpy “as all get out” (a phrase he loves to use) and wouldn’t go with me to get a real tree. I wanted to start Christmas. I love Christmas. So I said “fine,” the kiss-my-ass kind of fine, and off I went to Do It Center where I picked out a very nice six-foot unlit tree. It came in one box. I brought it home, and proceeded to set it up. Artificial trees are actually very easy to set up and look pretty real. The biggest issue was fluffing out the branches, especially the first time one sets up a tree out of a box. The branches are all mashed; all stuck together. They have to be unfurled in order to make the tree look full.

We had vaulted ceilings in the Oak Park house so Mr. Scrooge eventually built me a platform so that we could raise the tree up about two feet. It also gave us more floor space since the house wasn’t very big. It was a good system and worked for years, including last year.

But this year, in the new house, we have 18-foot ceilings through out. The house is an open floor plan. Even on a two-foot platform, the Do It Center tree would be dwarfed. It would look like a shrub. So last year, right after Christmas, I went online and started researching taller trees. I figured it was a good time to get a good deal and I was right. 

I did a bunch of research. I wanted one that was tall, but not all the way to the ceiling. I didn’t want one that was too fat – normally the taller the tree, the wider it becomes – but I didn’t want it to take over the room. I wanted it to have presence without being the only presence. I chose what was labeled a narrow fir. It’s about 12’ high. Fits perfectly into the corner of the great room, nestled between two walls of glass. I put it up last night. It took hours. There are six parts, from two boxes, that needed to be connected, from the base to the top. Then all of the branches needed to be unfurled. The tree is so tall the base is on wheels. 

Christmas decorating has officially begun now in earnest. The tree is up, with lights. I have to find the ornaments. My beautiful Karen Didion Santa that Kevin bought years ago is on the hearth, my much smaller Fabriché Santa is on the couch table, and the big Santa that my mom and sister got me years ago, who is the height of a small child, is standing near the tree. 

Tonight, the Byers Choice Carolers come out. Christmas has come to the hill and I’m cheering it out loud.

Only 358 days until Christmas

by Lorin Michel Thursday, January 1, 2015 7:59 PM

It is the first day of a brand spanking new year, one that is all shiny and filled with possibility and light. As such, it is the perfect day to say “out with the old, in with the new.” Old ways of thinking and new ways of changing. Old downers and new uppers, if you will. It is also my annual de-Christmasing, something I actually look forward to.

I am, as regular readers know, a bit of a Christmas nut. I love the music, I love the movies, I love the decorations, the festivity and the cheer. I even love the shopping as long as I don’t have to leave the house. Each year, on Thanksgiving weekend, I begin the decorating process. I make my husband hang lights outside. I put up the tree and decorate. I put up any other inside decorations I want to put up, including my Byers Choice Carolers. I put Christmas music on the stereo. I am a happy little Christmas clam.

As the month of December roars along, I purchase and wrap presents. Some go under the tree; others get shipped. I enjoy the season, I welcome the cold. I even do Christmas cards.

Then Christmas day arrives and it’s wonderful. The day after Christmas we go wine tasting. And then the week sort of meanders toward New Year’s Eve. By the time that rolls around, I’m done with all the celebrating, if not the joy. Don’t get me wrong. I remain filled with fa-la-la-la-la and all that jazz throughout the year. I am, as Ebenezer Scrooge finally decided, filled with the Christmas spirit.

Sort of. Except when I’m pissed at traffic, or clients, or the world in general.

On New Year’s Day, therefore, I de-Christmas. It’s a tradition and a process. I start by bringing all of the decorations I need to put away into one central location, like the eat-at bar in the kitchen. I take the lights off the tree, as well as any ornaments (which I haven’t actually hung in years so that helps). I go to the storage area and retrieve the myriad of boxes that I need in order to put everything away. I box my big display Santa, a gift from my mom and sister years ago. He’s the size of a small child and stands in the corner. I box my Karen Didion wine Santa, a gift from my husband several years ago. I take the other smaller wine Santa off the table, and the one from the top of the tree (no angels in this wine-soaked house), and put them away. I take the wreath off the front door as well as any lights that have been strung outside.

One by one, things get boxed and put away. Sometimes, like this morning, I do all of this while listening, for the last time, to Christmas music. It’s like the last hurrah.

The season has come to end. We celebrated the beginning of the end last night when snow started to fall around 10:30. It was the perfect way for the Christmas season to finish. We had hot chocolate today and toast, just like I used to have when I was a kid and we had a snow day. As I looked around my de-Christmased house, which always seems oddly empty for the first few hours after everything is put away, I was struck by two things: There are only 358 days until Christmas, and 332 days until re-Christmasing.


Happy Christmas Eve

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 24, 2014 8:38 PM

It’s a beautiful day in the desert as I write this, 55º with a slight breeze. It seems both impossible and completely plausible that today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas. Such is life in the desert southwest. I have become used to it and yet I always hope that there will at least be clouds. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but Christmas always seems more Christmasy when there is weather.

Today is filled with a lot of nothingness. Luckily all of the shopping has been done, the presents are wrapped. Even the shopping for food has been done. I will make a big pan of manicotti, Kevin’s favorite, then put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow. It’s always better if it has a day to sit. Tomorrow I’ll simply put it in the oven; I’ll make garlic bread and a salad.

Tonight at the Arizona Inn

This afternoon we’ll go for a walk, then do a bit of wine tasting. Tonight we’ll go to the Arizona Inn and sit in the library. It’s so terribly civilized, cultured. Each year they do a gorgeous Christmas tree with thousands of lights and ornaments. We’ll sit in front of the fire and sip a glass of fine red wine as music plays softly in the background. Afterward, maybe we’ll stop at Pastiche, one of our favorite restaurants. There isn’t much open tonight, but they are… until 9.

When we return to the house, we’ll have more wine. Some stuffed mushrooms, some additional munchies. We’ll listen to music; put a movie in with no sound. We’ll enjoy the season.

It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. We’ll be leisurely and open presents. We may have mimosas. It’s the only time of year we do that, and it makes the day that much more special. It’s supposed to be cloudy and perhaps rain. Rain and cold makes it, somehow, more festive though not more joyous. The joy comes regardless. It’s the joy of giving, of sharing, of laughter and the season. I’m a sucker for this season and all that it brings. The music, the gifts, the decorations, the movies. This year it also brings our good friends Roy and Bobbi. It’s the first year we haven’t had Justin, but we’re making a new tradition and spending it with friends instead. Next year, we’ll be in the new house. It will be another special year.

This Christmas Eve, we’re celebrating a beautiful day, and a fun evening to follow. We’re going wine tasting. We’re cooking. We’re enjoying. We’re watching and listening.

And we’re wishing everyone a Happy Christmas Eve.

25 days

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 1, 2014 8:45 PM

Once upon a time, the countdown to how many shopping days until Christmas started around the first part of December and progressed at a frenetic level until it became like a countdown for a rocket launch: Uh oh, 5. No, 4. OMG, 3. You are so screwed 2. And fuggedaboutit 1. Now along comes Overstock, a website that I’ve been frequenting lately because I’ve been able to find some amazing things for the house at equally amazing prices. They have a Countdown to Black Friday 2014 clock. As of right now it says:

26 days : 14 hours : 33 minutes

I love this time of year and can I just pause right now to be among the first to wish you, dear readers, happy holidays. I’ve written before about my love of the season, how I adore the music (as long as it’s more along the jazzy side) and the movies. I love the weather; I even love shopping, something I don’t love at any other time during the year.

But a countdown clock to Black Friday? Come. On.

This is why many get disgusted. The commercialization of Christmas and the holidays in general gets more and more out of control every year. The build up becomes such that you almost can’t help but be let down when Christmas day rolls around and everything is over by 2 pm.

Years ago, my mother used to get very into Christmas. She would spend so much time preparing for the holidays. Shopping, baking cookies. She even used to do her own Christmas cards. She loved to decorate the house, and especially loved to decorate once we moved to New England where more traditional exterior lights are not just the norm, but dictated by town ordnance. In New England, and especially in Amherst where my mother lives, everyone puts white candle lights in their windows. Rarely do you see lights strung along the rafters, but if you do, it’s done in good taste. Those lights are often white as well. Wreaths made from the fallen bows of pines and wired with pine cones that have also fallen adorn the doors. It’s very Normal Rockwell. You half expect to see a horse drawn sleigh going through downtown.

What you actually see are Volvos and Range Rovers, with lots of horses under the hood.

By the time Christmas afternoon appeared, she would start to get down. By evening, she’d be depressed. The Christmas’ never quite lived up to Rockwell’s imagination. She finally came to the realization that no one lives like a Rockwell painting, and from then on, she’s been fine.

We have long set our own traditions. Living out west, we’re rarely with family so we’ve made our own west coast family and it’s populated with our closest friends. Justin has always been home, and we always have a lovely Christmas morning, and then usually go to Roy and Bobbi’s for dinner. The next day we go wine tasting. It’s a way to extend the holiday.

This year, Roy and Bobbi are coming to spend it with us. We’re so excited. It will be a new tradition; one we hope to continue.

And at Thanksgiving, all of us are going to Paso Robles to go wine tasting. This is a new adventure, too. For years, we always had Thanksgiving at our house, where all the “stray dogs” – people who didn’t have family, or who had family they didn’t care to be with – would come. This year, we leave on Thanksgiving morning to drive to the Central Coast of California. Have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, and start wine tasting on Friday and Saturday. It will be Kevin and I (and Cooper), Roy and Bobbi, and Diane and Gene. The perfect holiday.

So we won’t even be around for Black Friday. Overstock’s clock will continue to tick down (26 days: 14 hours : 16 minutes) and rather than frantically shopping, we’ll be enjoying good friends. In 25 days. And on Black Friday, we’ll make it Red Wine Day. That’s living it out loud in holiday style.

January begins much the same as December ends

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 1, 2014 9:35 PM

As this New Year begins I am celebrating the idea that it starts literally as the last one ended: with Christmas.

Each January 1, I have a tradition. I sleep in a bit later than usual, lounging about with coffee and then, with the annual New Year’s Day Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy, I de-Christmas the house. This year was a little easier than usual simply because I didn’t have as much out and about. I started by taking the wreath off of the front door when we returned from our very late morning walk with Cooper. I wrapped up the extension cord that we had in the courtyard so that we could light the wreath every night.

Then I took the various Santas off of the dining room table. I took the very large Santa, with his wine, grapes and wine menu board, from the entertainment center. The two lamp lighter Carolers were removed from the mantel. The Carolers were all placed in my dining room hutch since that’s really the only place I have for them currently. I don’t have a dedicated space any longer but Kevin is going to build me something. And I just don’t have the heart to put them into a big plastic storage bin.

I went to the storage room in the garage and pulled the various boxes I’d need in order to re-store things. The big wine Santa box; the motorcycle Santa box. The box that holds my near life-size Santa (child size, actually) and the box for the wreath. All of the things that needed restored were on the eat-at bar. The boxes were thrown into the room in front of the bar while I continued to de-Christmas.

I pulled the strands of colored lights from the tree and wrapped them up. Then I pulled the three strands of lights containing grape clusters, followed by the three strands that contain soft plastic wine bottles and glasses. The Santa who hugs the top of the tree was removed and put into the hutch drawer with the stockings.

All of the lights were piled into the bottom of the box that holds the child-size Santa, then he was put into his plastic bag and placed on top. The box was closed and re-taped. The wine Santa was put into his box and taped up; ditto the motorcycle Santa. The wreath was put into its box.

Then I disassembled the tree. It is in three parts that fold or have to be folded down, and placed into its rather large box. That was then followed by a re-taping. Everything was taken back to the storage room in the garage and put away. Christmas music CD cases were restocked with their respective CDs and put back into the Christmas CD section of our somewhat vast CD collection, not to come out again until next year.

The tree at the Arizona Inn, with its 2500 lights

About an hour later, the house was back to normal. I dusted, I changed the sheets on our bed and the bed in the guest room. I cleaned the guest bathroom. We put any residual gifts left over from Christmas morning away. The season had come to its official end.

Except that it hadn’t.

The Arizona Inn, which is family owned, first opened in 1930 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It is nestled off of a side street not far from the University, situated in a lovely neighborhood. It is absolutely exquisite, and each Christmas, they put up a big Christmas tree in the library, strung with more than 2500 white lights. Each evening, between 5 and 8 through New Year’s Day, they serve cocktails in the library next to the tree in front of a roaring fire. We decided that we should end December with Christmas and start January with the end of Christmas. We got ready and drove the couple of miles to the Inn, and walked through the lobby. It’s got an old-world kind of feel to it. Rich with history and wood and atmosphere. We made our way to the library and there was the tree. We settled onto one of the couches flanking the fireplace, ordered a glass of wine and just relaxed, letting the residue of the season past wash over us even as we toasted the new year. It seemed the perfect way to welcome 2014.

Here’s to a year filled with 2500 lights. I can’t think of a better way to live it out loud.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML