When I moved from a 2,000-square-foot home with a two-car garage and full walkout basement into a second-floor apartment in an antique home, I knew adjustments would be needed. There’s been some bumps in the road as I realized all the furnishings, artwork, old photos and tons of saved ephemera that had to be jettisoned. When filling up a small car for a getaway driving trip, I learned how to “pack light” and during the past few months I’ve learned how to “live light.” Three sets of dishes and two sets of silverware had to be pared down to fit into new kitchen cabinets. I sold, gave away or tossed out mementos I had brought to Connecticut nearly 20 years ago after acknowledging that I had never opened the moving boxes.
But then the idea of celebrating Christmas in the new tiny home posed the greatest challenge. From the time they were tiny themselves, I went overboard on stuffed stockings on the mantel, Santa and reindeer clings on the windows, and so many gifts for my three grandchildren that one year they just stopped unwrapping. I decorated with angels on high and on the table, a crèche tableau that included deer for a New England touch, a large lighted Dickens era village in the front bay window, greenery on the hearth and the blackbird statue, every arch and entrance festooned with garland, wreaths inside and out, tinkling bells — you know, what everyone does to celebrate the holiday.
Facing the reality that I couldn’t do my usual full court press when my family came for Christmas was tempered by realizing my grandkids are now teenagers and probably wouldn’t be as fascinated with rearranging my window clings (I never get them straight) or redistributing my tree ornaments. The electronic versions of Uno and Monopoly probably don’t hold up to real-life nowadays, although I doubt they ever did. Monopoly advances players to collect rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy. It’s really no longer fun when you are now paying rent and in the past have filed for bankruptcy.
Although I did not diligently notify friends and family of my new address, many holiday cards were redirected (it helps to make friends with the local mailman.) I decided my tradition of posting all the cards on window trim and door headers should prevail so I taped them up as they arrived. Instead of an authentic six-foot evergreen, I bedecked the hall (actually, the small coffee table) with a gifted holiday arrangement and a realistic poinsettia in a realistic copper pot.
I have a big New Year’s celebration planned for 2019, which replicates one I did many years ago, while living in south Florida. The exact year doesn’t matter — better forgotten — but it involved drama, treachery and villainy, bad moon rising and yes bankruptcy and loss and new beginnings. Oh, and unemployment, family alienation, business deals gone south and midlife crisis.
Although, to the good, I was regularly published in the Miami Herald’s much loved and deeply mourned Tropic Magazine. And I got a personal message from Dave Barry, one of my writer heroes right up there with Stephen King.
The celebration culminated with the burning of a stick on which the cursed year had been etched in ink. For the record, I am going to someone else’s home to create this tiny bonfire because I am now just a renter. My beliefs are that metamorphosis is real and it doesn’t single out butterflies; and there are situations which we can neither command nor convert but every day we can put on the boxing gloves and give it our best shot.