Caleb was back at the decorating, this time inside the house. Twelve boxes of various decorations were stacked before him in the dining room. He stood, staring at them, putting off the inevitable. Eventually he was going to have to start putting up the decorations, or they would stay in their boxes. With a sigh he opened the first box and began to take out the wreaths that were stored inside. It wasn’t that he didn’t like to decorate, it was just that he found slightly sad even after all of these years.Of course, he wouldn’t let anyone else do this, even if they had wanted to because of the memories that he associated with it, memories of when his mother was still alive. He didn’t remember much of her, she had died when he was only seven, but one of the few that he did have was of them, just the two of them, decorating the house together. His sister Joyce had always been a daddy’s girl and sat with her father watching football whenever the decorating was being done. But that was okay with Caleb because he had enjoyed the time with only his mother and him. Now it was just him, decorations, and memories.
The wreaths were put up quickly, and Caleb moved onto the next box which was filled with garlands. These went on the staircase banister secured periodically with special ties, the knots toward the stairs like mom had always done it. A few of the garlands went over select doors in the house, Caleb never knew why the ones with them got them, as with the banister garland ties, it was just the way that mom had done it.
The nativity scene and mantle ornaments came out next, and Caleb carefully transferred them from their packaging to the place of honor in the living room. He arranged the figurines in the nativity scene with the wise men on the left and the shepherds on the right. Candles went on either side of the scene and a few more figures of snowmen, nutcrackers, and Santas lined the rest so the mantle.
The stockings went up next. Only three of them as it had been for the past nine years. Dad’s hung on the far left, Joyce’s next, and his last. He took a long look at his mother’s old stocking, forever packed in the box before closing the flaps and getting the next one. This box contained lights; lots and lots of strings of Christmas lights. Caleb pulled out all of the strings and then dug around looking for extra fuses. Invariably there would be at least one broken fuse that he would have to replace. But there were no fuses. Caleb vaguely remembered telling himself when he put the lights up last year that he would get fuses, but he never had. Well, he might as well get them now before he started messing with the lights.
Caleb grabbed his keys and headed out the door. His car wasn’t all that nice, which wasn’t surprising considering that his father worked for the police, but at least it ran. It took a few tries to get the engine to turn over, and then Caleb was on his way to the store. He glanced at his gas gauge and had to remind himself not to curse. He had almost no gas left; he’d have to stop at the station just down the road from his subdivision.
As Caleb pulled out of his neighborhood, he remembered that he had left his wallet on the kitchen table. This time he did curse as he turned around, all the while reminding himself that he probably shouldn’t be. Quickly he drove back to the house. Leaving the car idling in the driveway, he jogged inside and grabbed his wallet. On the way out the door, he was distracted by a wayward decoration. Then he ran back out to his car and pulled out of the driveway.
The little detour hadn’t set him back much at all, a few minutes tops, but it would be enough.