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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spaced Out By Christmas: From the Editor…

Christmas at Lucky'sCreak, creep, creak, creep, creak, creep…slowly up the ladder into the attic. Wasn’t it just yesterday I made this ascent…stowed the last tote full of the trimmings and trappings of Christmas…breathed in that musty attic smell? And here I am again…creak, creep, creak. I wish the years had a little more creep to them and me a little less creak.

“We need to store all the Christmas decorations on the garage shelves,” my wife fretted as she steadied the ladder beneath me. “Next year we’ll do it for sure.” You know, this has been her refrain for years. The simple truth is there’s no space on the garage shelves…crammed full from floor to ceiling… not another square inch. Even the spiders no longer spin their webs there: not enough room. Besides, it would have to be one thin fly that could wedge its way into such clutter. When I ease down the totes step by step, I then have to find floor space to set them. And once all that holiday stuff works its way into the house, you have to jockey everything around to make more space for it. Then there’s the tree; you have to find the space to install it. The house gets smaller every year, I swear. Take something off the shelf, out of the closet, remove it from the pantry. Go to put the item back and two more things are there ahead of you.

We went on an expedition to a shopping mall the other day. There is something about gift shopping that makes me think it’s nap time. No sooner out of the parking lot and into the arena of consumerism than I start to yawn (for some strange reason this condition never manifests itself in grocery stores…the food perhaps?). I don’t know if it’s because I’m suddenly bored or anticipating  the exhaustion I know will inevitably occur. A visit to the mall always brings two things to mind: the first reminds me of the Greek philosopher Diogenes after he spent, at the request of a friend, a few hours at a street bazaar. When his friend, anxious to learn of the philosopher’s impressions of all the stalls, merchants and their merchandise, asked how he liked the bazaar, Diogenes replied: “Never have I seen so many things Diogenes does not need!” Now there’s a man who respected his space! My second observation involves the mall shoppers themselves. They bustle by me  in a hurry to make their next purchase, each carrying a bulging shopping bag. What’s in the bag takes up space…another of its kind has already taken its place on the shelf. Whatever’s in the bag will take up space on the recipient’s shelf, their closet or pantry or counter or under the bed, in the garage (“garage,” a place where automobiles are stored or repaired).

I read a New Yorker article by David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors, a few weeks ago. He was purging his apartment of owls—Sedaris made the mistake of mentioning to friends he liked owls. Before he knew it, he was inundated by owl tschotskes:  figurines, pictures…a coffee mug with the inscription: “Owl always love you.” Space… he needed more space and the owls had to go. In the piece he referenced Christmas gifts to friends and relatives. When he inquired of suitable presents, most told him, “Don’t gift us with anything that takes up space; we’d just as soon you donate to the local pet shelter on our behalf.”

This post is an unusually short one for The Ripple and while cyberspace is vast and spacious, readers this time of the year will appreciate the short space of time in which they’ll need to read it. After all, as the saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” The same, I’ve observed over the years, holds true for Christmas. 

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