The capitalized, or upper-case, Epiphany, refers to Twelfth Night, or the end of the Christmas season, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas (the one with the twelve drummers drumming), celebrated in some churches as the festival commemorating the visit of the three kings. The lower-case “epiphany” is defined as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure,” used in a sentence like, “One epiphany came when a dozen engineers in northern New Mexico saw a lone, fading Xerox paper carton bobbing in a swamp of old motor oil at the bottom of a pit.” —Michelle Conlin, Business Week, 1 Nov. 1999 (This quote is from dictionary.com. And, I don’t know about you, but I intend to track down that article and find out what that amazing epiphany was**. But that’s not what this post is about.)
Putting holiday decorations away is a big chore, larger or smaller, of course, depending on how much you decorate your space. For example, I’ve heard of parents who put fully decorated trees in their kids’ rooms, and sometimes in all the rooms in the house. I’m sure it’s quite festive and beautiful and enjoyed, but, Ollie, Mollie, Gollie, that’s quite a lot of undecorating that has to be done.
From our first Christmas on, we got more Christmas stuff. A few new ornaments every year or so. Other household decorations. And some more new ornaments. And some holiday mugs. There were some holiday napkins. And a tablelcloth. And placemats. AND CHRISTMAS DISHES!! And a big evergreen swag (artificial, so it had to be stored each year), with a string of little lights, and special little ornaments that went on the little lights. We had quite a bit of Christmas stuff, which were stored, for 11/12ths of the year, in an assortment of boxes, stashed wherever we could find space.
epiphany #1–I bought some holiday storage boxes. They were bright red and cute, and an easily managed size (no filling up a giant box with so much stuff that no one could lift it).
Bonus: Because they were easy to see, up there on a shelf, we were less likely to leave some box unopened, and wonder, on Christmas Eve, “Hey, where is the (whatever we’d forgotten about)?”. (Of course, there is the truth there that, if we didn’t miss what was in the box I’d overlooked, then maybe we didn’t really need that stuff.)
The first year we had them, I enjoyed packing away all our holiday decorations and popping the boxes up onto shelves. And they were easy to find the next December. When it was once again packing-up time, I found it somewhat challenging–trying to figure out how everything had been arranged in the boxes. I kept rearranging things, always coming out with one or two items that I couldn’t fit into the boxes, which was ridiculous! Everything had come out of the boxes! Why couldn’t I get it all back in? I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took a couple more years to figure out how to solve the problem.
epiphany #2-One year, as I packed up Christmas, I numbered the boxes and made a list of what was in each box. There was quite a bit of re-arranging, but, when I was done, everything was in a box, and I had a nice list.
Bonus: Not only do I know which items belong in “Box 1,” I know that they will all fit in “Box 1,” when I’m putting things away. Additionally, if, in the springtime, I want something from the Christmas stash, I know exactly which box to search, as when Kevin and April once asked to borrow a Nativity that’s really a set of Manger Scene figures that are meant to be used for Batik. I checked my list and easily found them, nestled in Box 3.
Then we moved.
Our previous house, where we lived for 28 years, was an older home, built in 1912. When we moved in, there was a garage, also probably constructed in 1912. It was not a place you would want to store anything, except maybe a bunch of bricks. We certainly didn’t put anything important there, like a car, or boxes of Christmas stuff. The house had 10 foot ceilings, so there was some good storage in closets and shelves that had 2 more feet of head space than in previous places we’d lived. When we moved into our present home, the Christmas boxes got stored on some shelves in the garage. They were out there for a year before we brought them in and opened them up for Christmas decorating. Almost everything was all right. But, the ornament box showed some signs of, umm, destruction. I put this photo up a couple of weeks ago. The boys and a friend decorated those Pepperidge Farm gingerbread men cookies. I sprayed some of them (not the Frankenstien one or the skeleton one, etc) with clear polystyrene and hot-glued a paper clip to the backs, to hang on the tree, the year we focused on holiday traditions of Germany. Over the next few years, some got broken or chipped, or left accidentally on the tree and thrown out. We were down to one, a little girl, that I think I decorated. Anyway, when we opened up the ornament box, we found the most damage. Apparently those big ol’ roaches will gnaw on anything! The most interesting find was a hard blob of glue with an embedded paper clip. Some bug had eaten the entire, polystyrene-covered, gingerbread cookie girl and frosting. Not one crumb was left.
epiphany #3-If the Christmas boxes have to be stored in the garage, I need plastic boxes.
So, I started over. I bought new boxes. Packed and re-packed until I got everything safely in a box. Bought new numbers and put them on. Made a new list. Moved on.
Bonus: The current bugs and whatever else may make its way into the laundry room seem not to be able to chew their way into the plastic boxes.
There are quite a few things that I put into big Zip-lock bags before packing them into the Christmas boxes. When I get the items out, I put the plastic bags in the box. This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were here for Thanksgiving. We put up the tree and decorated it, and all the boxes got brought in and all sorts of decorations got put up. All the plastic bags ended up in one or two boxes. When I was packing up this past Wednesday, I laid them all out and tried to figure out what went where (not for the first time). And there were some new things; and there were things that got put together (need larger bag), or taken apart (need smaller bag).
epiphany #4-I should label the plastic bags, too. And if I took the time, now, to do it carefully (labels w/strong adhesive, easy-to-read lettering), I would be so very glad about that next year!
and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:2 (New International Version)
A few times a year (Advent & Christmas, Easter, in the spring and summer when teams are traveling on mission trips) our Associate Pastor asks people to contribute pieces for a church-wide devotional booklet. Last year, I wrote the one for January 6, Epiphany. Here’s the link http://calvarydevos.blogspot.com/2016/01/simple-gifts-epiphany-by-gayle-lintz.html, in case you’d like to read it, also.
Meanwhile, in this fresh, new year, I’m looking forward to those God-inspired illuminating discoveries, realizations, and disclosures.
**It wasn’t at all hard to locate (modern life-I just put the quote in the Search box). A little more of the quote:
For the past six years, 300 Xerox Corp. employees–from senior managers to clerks–have participated in “vision quests” as part of the struggling copier company’s $400 million project to revolutionize product development. Alone for 24 hours with nothing more than sleeping bags and water jugs in New Mexico’s desert or New York’s Catskill Mountains, the workers have communed with nature, seeking inspiration and guidance about building Xerox’ first digital copier-fax-printer.
One epiphany came when a dozen engineers in northern New Mexico saw a lone, fading Xerox paper carton bobbing in a swamp of old motor oil at the bottom of a pit. They vowed to build a machine that would never end up polluting another dump.