Doldrums

January and February are what I have always referred to as the ‘doldrum’ months when it comes to work.  It’s the period just after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, when people are paying off their massive expenditures after Christmas, starting (and usually failing) in their New Years’ resolutions, and there’s less money and effort being spent on the necessities, not like the past two months.

I call it that, because the word so easily fits.  I remember from school when we were learning about the equatorial region of the planet, where the weather is fairly unpredictable in terms of wind, storms and so on, and I when I learned the word ‘doldrum’ it stuck with me.  As some words just do.  Rolls off the tongue, and it most definitely dovetails with the time that we’re in right now.

Everything right now is more sedate.  People aren’t so much in a hurry to get where they’re going, there’s not so much the same rapidity in sales plans for businesses, and your average family is budgeting for paying off their holiday bills and not yet gearing up for holidays to come (other than the occasional birthday or whatnot), they’re pacing through the months just waiting for Spring to arrive so they can work towards the summer months that are on the way.

And tax season.

 

Reversing an old habit

The adage goes ‘Old habits die hard’, and they do. Certainly one of the worst ones I have is the need for clutter around me. Well, I can’t say it’s a need necessarily, it’s just what I’ve become accustomed to, what’s easiest and it’s certainly what I grew up with.

My parents were pack rats. Today they would be branded as hoarders, but the result is the same. Granted this condition probably stemmed from growing up during the Depression years of the first third of the  20th century where families were losing fortunes, property, and their life savings as well as their possessions every day. You held onto whatever you had as long as you could. Too, things were built to last longer, not like today when items you purchase might not even last a season, let alone a year.

With all that in mind, I’m reminded that I have a house chock full of stuff. Every room has piles of things that just sit and take up space, they don’t move for weeks, sometimes months and quite often years. Add in the fact I have a storage bin with boxes of items, old furniture, and antiques from my parent’s house. Much of it hasn’t been touched in close to 30 years, certainly, much of it is still in the same boxes they were packed up in, in 1992. As I get older, I begin to worry about what will become of it when I’m gone. I don’t have children to pass it onto, so more than likely it will either be auctioned off or tossed in a dumpster somewhere. Or a landfill. That’s a sobering thought.

With all that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion something needs to be done before that scenario may come to pass.

The way I figure it, there are 12 rooms/sections of the house (not counting the storage bin, but definitely counting the garage) and there are 12 months in the year. It’s not to the point where there are newspapers and junk piled in every room, but there are things, and boxes, trash, and just stuff cluttered here and there that can be dealt with. I’m not going for a ‘hoe-out’, where things get tossed en masse, but we do need to cut down on the crap and minimize in many cases. Donate some, sell others, toss what’s broken, can’t be fixed or is beyond salvage. When we cleaned out my parent’s house in ’92 we filled 5 long construction debris bins with things they had accumulated over the years, and a lot of stuff was still left behind even so. I don’t want a repeat of that. That was hellacious.

So that’s my goal for 2020. 12 months, 12 rooms. I’ll be updating this as I go. If I finish a room early, I can start on the next, I think that’s fair.

Wish me luck.

Twelfth Night

I was talking to one of my co-workers today about some things, and happened to mention that once I got home I would be helping my wife un-trim the Christmas tree and get the ornaments and such put away for the year, in concert with ‘twelfth night’.  He said that he’d never heard of that, and rather than go into the whole Epiphany tale, I just said “you’ve heard of the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas, right?  This is an offshoot of that..”  He agreed in assent that he had (I mean, who hasn’t?) and that he was unaware that anything was attached to that, that had any meaning.  I merely smiled and said that it was a tradition both in my family and my wife’s family, and we’ve been keeping it in our marriage over the last 26 years.

On my way home from work this evening, I noticed a lot more Christmas trees out on people’s curbs than I normally have for the last week or so.  Certainly, the people next door (who rent, FWIW) have always had theirs on the curb the day after the holiday, as if they needed to get the tree down and out of the house just as soon as the presents have been ripped open and (in the kids’ case) played with.  I always thought it an odd thing to destroy the beauty of the holiday by sanitizing your house as soon as possible as if it was a necessity.   All the effort goes into decorating, and as soon as you can, get rid of it all?  Weird.

My wife and I had been discussing for the past several days about how and when to de-trim the tree.  It was already agreed that it needed to be done before tonight, but there’s a process to it all, considering the tree needs to be taken apart, bagged and lugged down to the basement, and the ornaments need to be situated in their respective boxes (although unbeknownst to me, she had purchased a new ornament storage box that needed to be assembled) and then lugged upstairs to the spare bedroom that we use as an ad hoc storage area.

Since she’s retired, she said she would begin doing it today, and then I came home from work I could do all the items that were in the taller range since the tree is 7 feet tall (2.13 m) and she’s at best 5’3″ (1.6 m).  True to her word, once I arrived home she had been working diligently since about 2 pm and had the tree pretty much divested of the majority of its decoration.  She was only missing a couple of balls (that she’d humorously christened ‘Jack’ and ‘Diane’) and needed a place for some of the larger decorations, and thereupon needed the new storage box mentioned above.

I built the box (pretty straightforward, it only needed to have the inserts put in and situated), brought it into the living room and commenced assisting her taking things off the tree, discussing which box then went into and so on.  The stockings were removed from the fireplace mantle, placed into the box they’d come from, and in about 45 minutes the tree was looking pretty bare once more.  The lights are my bailiwick since I’m the tall one and don’t require a ladder to put them on.

We’ve been using egg boxes to wind the lights around, it’s convenient and works well, the light strings don’t get tangled while in storage, and they’re easy to find.  My wife mentioned that perhaps next year we could get some new lights (LED ones?) and use them as they’re a bit more cost-conscious.  I mentioned we have several light sets I purchased a couple of years ago on sale at the local Kmart that were on clearance which we’ve never used.  While I’m fairly certain they’re not LED, they’re a bit newer than the ones we have presently and might be a good upgrade.  Since we used color lights this year instead of the clear ones in years past, she was pleased with the way that it looked, and said that we might do it again this coming year.  We’ll see how it all pans out 11 months from now.

At any rate, the tree is down, stowed away and the ornaments are back upstairs slumbering until Christmas 2020.  I do lament over the fact that I don’t have a lot of the ornaments that I grew up with, but I think they got tossed in the great move of 1992, and for that, I’m truly sorry.  In the future, perhaps I can move on from that debacle.  Still trying.

Twelfth Night is accomplished.  On to the doldrums of January.  Hurrah?