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The Last Year

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“God dammit, this is the last God Damn year I am putting these lights up!” My dad grunted while struggling to string some old, half burnt out Christmas lights through the railing up the steps to our home.

Although we would not find out that they are burnt out until they had already been strung through, of course. As usual, my brother and I stood there in our ridiculous puffy jackets, and oversized mittens that hung off of our small hands, watching him break his back over a day-after-Thanksgiving tradition. Occasionally, one of us would eagerly chime in “Dad, do you need any help?” which could easily be translated to “Give me something to do.” The response was always the same, “Well, there is not much else you can do at this point.” Oh, how those words stung our cold, numb ears. Eventually mom would call us in for hot cocoa, or some other seemingly lackluster affair, but almost anything was enticing compared to standing around watching our father deck the yearly Christmas decorations in the bitter cold. Yet, somehow, every year the same excitement came upon us to “help” Dad put up the lights. Something about the idea of helping him, the idea of standing out there while he spent hours on perfecting the whole scene, for some reason, we loved every second of it. Maybe it was because when we finally turned those lights on, with the click of just one button, kind of like what you see in those cheesy Christmas movies, not even the cold weather could manage to overcome the awe-inspiring warmth of looking at the beautiful lights. Every twinkling-just-right-light, every reindeer in its place, and every ribbon tied perfectly hanging just below the single candle that lit up each window from the inside, all of it, whimsical. When the house lit up, so did our Christmas spirit.

So, you can imagine how I felt when I heard those three words spew out of my dad’s mouth. “The last year”. The last year? I could practically feel the pieces of my little heart hit every rib as it crumbled apart and trickled down. I tried to imagine the future Christmas’s; mild and spiritless. I tried to imagine not coming home and seeing the unlit lights, just waiting for the first hint of darkness so they could shine. I tried to imagine not racing down the stairs with my brother in an effort to get the satisfaction of lighting up the entire house with the push of a button. But the truth is, I couldn’t do it. Not even in my mind would Christmas be downhearted.

Just as I was watching my dad put the last few lights up around the bushes, thinking to myself to take it all in because it would be the last year I got to experience it, a little old lady pulled over next to our house. Living on a busy street, this wasn’t as uncommon as you would think. My dad let out a sigh and walked over to the car, expecting the usual “Now can you tell me how to get to…” question.

The lady stuck her head towards the window while she rolled it down as my father approached her car, “Excuse me, Sir. I just wanted to let you know that every single year I look forward to driving by your house around Christmas. You do the loveliest job with these decorations and it just looks beautiful,” she smiled.

“Well thank you very much,” my dad said, chuckling at the irony.

“You’re welcome! And have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” she bellowed, rolling up her window and driving away.

“Same to you!” my dad called out.

What happens next is obvious. There is no way my dad could stop doing the Christmas decorations now. And he didn’t. Every year since then, my home has been decorated to its fullest potential, inside and out. Not one year has it ceased to look whimsical when it lights up around the snow and creates a seasonal warmth within. So Thanksgiving, along with family, friends, and usual things I am thankful for, I make sure to leave a little space to be thankful for the little old lady who ensured our Christmas essence for many years to come.



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PrincessBubblegum said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I liked this a lot. I love that this is Christmas-y. I love Christmas, if you can't tell. 

 

 
samwich7 said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm
I love this.  I totally relate :)
 
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