The tradition of cluttering up a house with tawdry gewgaws is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Putting the gewgaws back in their box is also one of my favorite things. The house instantly becomes tidy and spare, everything in its place, a way to ease back into my routine. Yesterday I got so carried away that I even started reorganizing boxes, moving stuff from the upstairs crawlspace into the cellar, cleaning out closet shelves. Living in this storage-challenged cottage can feel a bit like like living on a boat: without vigilance, things start falling overboard.
And not only is the house neat, but we're also getting used to the comforts Tom rushed through for the parties . . . plumbing in the upstairs bathroom, a bathroom door, window shades in the bedroom. It's a strange luxury to have two bathrooms for two people, after living for twenty years with one bathroom for four.
I'm even looking forward to getting back to concentrated work. My study is my own again: no longer a spare bedroom, a present-wrapping hub, the repository of a son's laundry, or a chairless void. I miss my boys intensely, every day, but breathing space is a certain solace.