Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
A month ago I was humming Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Now, I'm trying to figure out when he's going to leave.
It's not the tree.
We took that down a day after St. Nick's visit.
The stockings have been removed from the chimney with care.
The candy has gone to wherever candy goes. (Waistlines are a likely suspect.)
But the ghosts of Christmas recently past remain in the form of a considerable collection of red and green bric-a-brac awaiting a trip to storage.
We just can't figure out how we got all this stuff.
Right now we pretty much have two rooms out of commission while we go through the dozens of decorations, ornaments and assorted Christmas crafts that somehow became the latest addition to our Tanenbaum tradition.
How, we wonder, could a modest family of three end up with all this?
We have enough stuff to deck a dozen halls. Enough lights to illuminate a small airport.
There are enough ornaments to fill four or five trees and enough bells to ring in decades of New Years.
We even have two stockings per household member. ("Why not?" I pointed out to my wife. "We've got two feet.")
But we also have stockings for unnamed visitors, absent family members and even pets (long dead).
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not bragging on this growing collection of holiday hardware. Most of it is not worth putting out for a yard sale.
It's just that every year there is more and more of it.
We have about 30 different Christmas-themed coffee mugs, including two new ones I came across Thursday night.
"Where did these come from?" I asked Mrs. Claus.
We have snowman place-mats, three showing Frosty and two (in a completely different style and shape) showing Frosty and a girlfriend.
We have dozens and dozens of candles, which have to be put away carefully because if you forget and put them in the attic they will melt all over the manger scene animals.
Why have we become such Yule fools?
It's hard to say, but I think it has something to do with wanting to hold onto Christmas. Maybe it was those childhoods of a season less festive, when the aluminum tinsel "icicles" were dutifully removed from each holiday tree and stored for the next year's Dec. 25.
Maybe it's remembrance of times past when the stockings Santa filled would soon go from holding oranges and candy canes and back to covering your feet as soon as practically possible.
Maybe we've just become selfish pack-rats unwilling to throw away anything that might one day hold a fond memory.
The holiday whose anticipated arrival might be "slow as Christmas," appears in no hurry to make its departure.
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 107.