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We spent nearly all day today cleaning house, or to be slightly more accurate, de-Christmas-ing. I’m fairly sure this is the earliest we’ve ever accomplished it. We put up our tree about a week sooner than normal, but unfortunately it took a turn for the worse and started getting crispy in about 10 days. That was an unhappy surprise as the tree was quite fresh when we got it and we watered daily. Regardless, it was excellent motivation to get things done sooner rather than later. In the end, the cleaning process took nearly six hours. We had a lot of Christmas happening at our house, and wrapping all of those fragile little treasures takes ages. I am grateful to be done.

At the end of it all we took off for Barnes and Noble and rewarded ourselves with a new calendar. There were several in the running, but “Antique Maps” was the final winner, agreed upon by both of us. Avery ended up getting an Ariel book she’d been fixated on the entire time. I justified it because the calendar itself had been on sale (there hadn’t been a sign, so that was a pleasant surprise). She won me over by calling it “my mermaid book.” She’s never seen “The Little Mermaid” and I hadn’t realized she knew what a mermaid was. She constantly amazes me!

I threw myself into the de-Christmas-ing process because I wanted that “fresh start” feeling that the new year so often brings, and I was hoping that a clean house would get me there. We got one nasty surprise, though. When Chris dragged the tree outside, it turned out that our tree stand must have had a leak. The floor hidden underneath the tree skirt was buckled and discolored, with speckles of mold covering a three-foot area. I was not happy. Instead of my fresh start, it felt like I had literally uncovered a bad omen. (Why is it bad things always seem like the portent of still more misery to come, but when good things happen we “wait for the other shoe” and still expect the bad stuff?) I was immediately overwhelmed with anger and frustration, and yes, ended up crying over it. House problems occur, I realize, but for most people that anger is eventually followed by grumbling and the inevitable payout for whatever repair is necessary. We simply don’t have that luxury. When things break, they stay broken or we patch them as best we can. In this case we have our fan blowing on the floor to dry it out. When it has (hopefully) shrunk down to normal or near-normal again, we will treat the mold spots with a bleach solution, and then sand and stain it, hoping for the best match possible. Not fun. I suppose I should be grateful that I was unusually motivated to seek out that “fresh start” or the damage could have been even worse. I am trying – really – to look on the bright side of things.

My husband is the master of looking on the bright side. He came in from putting things back in the garage and said, “I had bad luck followed by good luck.” The story: He’d put a box full of wrapping paper on a high shelf, initially without incident. But then he found a couple more rolls that had been left out, so he pulled the box down again. When he pulled it back down, it shifted just enough to hit the garage light, which made a loud *POP* and then everything went black. His “good” luck? He’d left the one remaining, still-empty Christmas box on the floor. The box he’d been moving had sheered off the lightbulb, which then dropped directly into the empty box before exploding. “Ther could have been a huge mess!” he said. “I could have been cut or even burned!” “What was the good luck?” I asked, confused. “That was the good luck” he explained. “Because the box was sitting there, things were fine.” “So the ‘good’ luck was that things didn’t end up even worse?” Our differing perspectives, in a nutshell. Chris is light, I’m dark. He can turn breaking a lightbulb into a victory, and my focus, always, is on what went wrong.

So to turn that on its head, I am going to end this by saying this: I cleaned up after Christmas a full week earlier than normal. The floor could have been much worse. If I’d given into my procrastinating nature the damage would have undoubtedly been horrendous, rather than just bad. The messed-up floor doesn’t negate my major housekeeping accomplishment. I cleaned – a full week early! I conquered! Oh, and I took a Day Two picture for my #365daysofgratitude project, so I haven’t dropped the ball there, either. (That will have to be posted tomorrow, though, as it is nearly 2:00 AM here.) Life is good.