It was a nice Christmas, as I said. Our house has been chock ablock full of presents for quite some time now. We bought a nice livingroom set for Brianna, second hand. She needed it, and it was a good deal. We got her curtains and an end table, and pillows. A microwave, matching dishes. You know. All the things that make a house a home. So that furniture was stashed where we could find room. I found a coffee table that Dylan wanted, an ingeniously designed thing. The hinged top raises to eating height. (If the boy were not so in love with his bed, I imagine that he'd never leave the sofa). We had also gotten huge framed posters of the New York City skyline for his black and gray bedroom. Mike got a folding deer cart. All this stuff took up a lot of room. I was finding it hard to move for stuff piled in the guest room, and my study/exercise room. The boxes full of Christmas decorations were brought down from the attic, and once the decorating was done, I stashed the boxes in Mike's room.
Christmas eve, we snuck (sneaked?) over to Brianna's, and set up her new living room. She was shocked. Mike's stuff went out the door with him Christmas day. Buddy and Brianna hauled out the rest of their gifts as well. Today, Dylan left, taking a Jeep full of things. Cara went to Fleetwood with him, because she loves nothing better than decorating on someone else's dime. She'll be hanging and settling his new stuff for him, stocking his freezer. They'll be back later this week for New Year's eve.
After the kids were gone, I went out to bring in firewood. I decided to burn the bags, and boxes and mounds of debris from Christmas morning. The burn barrel flamed high in the dusk, spinning lazy sparks in the sky. There was a lot of stuff to be hauled outside and burned, and I made trip after trip. It is nice to have the basement back to rights again. The spare rooms are looking like spare rooms again. I'm not climbing over furniture and boxes to get into them again. So the house has emptied out of an amazing amount of stuff. People, too. The kids are gone. It is quiet. Tim listens to the Steelers kicking butt on the radio. The dog snores gently. It still bemuses me that we have reached this point in our life. I used to cry when the kids left, but after all this time, it has begun to feel normal. I have a lovely family, and I really am glad that they still head home for the holidays, with all their high spiritness, with all their laughter. I treasure the time that we have, drinking in the details of the faces of these young adults, even as childish voices and giggles echo in my heart. Our lives intersect and diverge. It is as it is meant to be, but still, I cannot help but remember a time when I couldn't conceive of such a thing. Life really is beautiful.