It was Halloween Eve and Frederick awoke at 44 Cherry Street with a song in his head, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!” Everyone knew that Halloween was the official start of the Christmas season, even though Walmart had started weeks before. He was excited about getting the apartment decorated for the holidays.
Lorraine had disappeared almost a year ago, and while he still grieved for her, he felt liberated from her persnickety rules on what could or could not come into the apartment. She had made him go through his clothing and discard some perfectly good items, clothes he had bought decades earlier but, while faded and too big for him, still had years of wear in them. She had gone though his dress shirts and thrown away all the short-sleeved poly-mixed shirts. He had worn those to work every day of his life and thought the long-sleeved all cotton ones she chose for him were too much trouble. She told him he could roll up the sleeves, but that just didn’t seem neat enough. And then he had to iron them. The rest of his polyester wardrobe (easy care, easy to wear) followed the shirts to the dump.
He was able to tolerate the pruning of his wardrobe, but he was heart-broken when she threatened to dispose of his collection of Christmas decorations. She called them “Tacky,” but that just was not true. His Granny from Yancey County had passed those decorations to Frederick, and they were all he had to remember her by. They were family heirlooms, by God! So unbeknownst to Lorraine, Frederick had taken all his precious decorations to a secret storage unit he had rented in Swannanoa.
Now that Lorraine was gone, probably forever, he retrieved his decorations from the storage unit, and bundled up all the clothes Lorraine had selected for him, and placed them in the unit. He would give them to charity at some point, but for now, he felt relieved to get them out of the small closet he shared with Lorraine’s wardrobe of Eileen Fisher clothing. He treated himself to a pre-Christmas holiday shopping trip to his favorite Goodwill in South Asheville (the High-End Goodwill) and bought a whole new supply of polyester short sleeved dress shirts. They had a funny musty smell, but he was sure it would come out in the wash.
This Halloween Eve he would decorate the apartment with his treasured holiday decor. He had a blue aluminum Christmas tree which would form the centerpiece of his decor. Some of the branches had gone missing, but it still looked dazzling. He hung his Granny’s faux pine wreath wrapped in tinsel, with the lights that had burned out years earlier, and the stained poly ribbon on the front door. Because the lights no longer worked, he set up a spotlight in the hallway pointed at the wreath. It looked amazing as the spotlight changed colors and it looked as if the wreath too were changing color.
Just looking at the wreath and the bare tree made him feel great. He just knew that this holiday season would be wonderful.