In our garage there is a 4-foot doorway to a 10-foot deep storage space that holds all things Christmas. In addition to the ornaments, lights and trinkets I counted some 16 snowman figures and 21 Santa Clauses of varying size, shape and material. The weekend after Thanksgiving we dragged the storage boxes from the cubbyhole. It’s a yearly tradition of scraping my spine along the doorframe and dinging my head on the ceiling more times than I’d like to admit for the sake of being festive.

I was already sore because two days earlier I had gone to “Parent’s Day” at Margo’s hip-hop dance class. I figured we’d watch the kids dance and maybe partake in the Electric Slide or something. Noooo. They had us doing ALL the hipping and hopping. It didn’t help my hamstrings much that my dance partner was just a few inches over four feet tall either. Mostly it was moms in attendance and a couple of them were really good, like they had been practicing or something.

There was one other dad and, of course, he was smooth as silk. What a jerk. With the mirrors in there, I could see my forehead was glistening with sweat. This guy was wearing a sweater and jeans and had nary a hint of perspiration. And when I felt a sharp tug in my calf muscle while train-wrecking my way through a particularly bouncy sequence I thought, Okay great, now the jerk is going to have to carry me out of here.

Thankfully, it was just a tug and not a pull or a pop or a tear (sadly, I know them all too well) because I had a lot of work to do that weekend. And since I am a sucker who feels as if Christmas magic can be harnessed for the right price, I bought a huge tree. We wound the light strands around and around and around again until I felt comfortable enough to declare, “this tree is so lit.” Kristen chuckled at least. The kids rolled their eyes.

It took all of the Georgia vs. Auburn game to hang the ornaments. The kids enjoyed it for about an hour, but their enthusiasm waned. Elliott asked why we were even decorating since we wouldn’t be here on Christmas Day. I gently explained that it was because we were creating memories, damn it! And sometimes the chore of Christmas decor goes on long after the thrill of decorating is gone.

So after the tree, it was pretty much a solo mission. There were the light-up figures for the front yard – the penguin and Santa and a fox with a top hat returned from last year. This year we added a schnauzer with an elf hat just because. The porch needed wreaths and lights and its own mini-tree. The stockings were hung by the chimney and several other places because we have way more stockings than people. I scraped up my forearms trimming and lighting the holly tree. When I finished, it looked just good enough to momentarily suppress the thought that all this stuff would need to be packed back into that little cubby hole in a few weeks.

By time we got around to inviting some friends over to bask in the holiday merriment with us, we were pooped. I spent the bulk of the evening complaining about the referees in Elliott’s basketball game that day. Oh, well. When we do pack everything away again, the house will feel naked for a while. It’s like Greece going from being all OPA! to austerity measures. There will be a lot less chocolate and wine in January and it wouldn’t surprise me if not a single cookie was baked all month. But at least I have a goal for 2018. Team Sullivan has eleven months to build up their holiday season stamina. These memories don’t just make themselves.

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at