Attic Diving

Attic Diving

My favorite conversations end with one of those “tag lines” that can replay and pull out in random other circumstances. Hubs gave me one last holiday season.

We were toying with the idea of not putting up decorations at all. We’d already downgraded to a two-foot tree with minimal ornaments because, well, cats.

 And if the feline trio kept up their antics with the Charlie Brown-esque solution, the next option would be one of those little pine-scented rearview mirror trees dangled from the ceiling. Dangle an entire forest. Close our eyes, take a deep breath, and pretend we’re on a road trip.

Or some kind of trip…

Anyway, we decided to drape the mantel with greenery and put up a few bobbles. We have a tall, skinny nutcracker found on clearance last year, but only one—a pair for either side of the fireplace would be ideal, but no such luck.

A chintzy lone nutcracker. (That may be a short story title someday…)

The nicest holiday décor we own are the J O Y letters. They’re made from galvanized metal and lean nicely against the bricks above the mantel. Every year, we wrap each letter in a black trash bag to protect them from whatever might happen in the attic in the eleven months that they hang out up there.

But Hubs said not this year... Because he wanted to leave the oversized clock on the mantel (even though he has a watch and a phone and a TV screen that displays the time…).

I suggested a compromise. We could allow the clock to be the O and put J and Y on either side.

No. “We’ll leave joy in the attic this year.”

Think about that: Leave joy in the attic.

2023 was a year of massive change, and we ended that chunk of 365 days by leaving joy in the attic. Wrapped in black trash bags.

So Hubs could know the time.

I don’t believe in jinxes. I’m not superstitious, but wow. 

In I Don’t Wanna, I spoke a little about the struggle of looking back on 2023. It was a rough one on many levels. And though I don’t believe it’s because J O Y was in the attic, I would like to change the narrative.

And I am an author, so I suppose I know how to throw in a plot twist.

So, I went attic diving.

Our attic access is in the garage with one of those pull-down deals. A very rickety wooden contraption that thinks it’s a ladder. And though I’m getting healthier, I still have Back Guy on speed dial. One misstep on that ladder will land me with more chiropractic sessions than I care to think about.

Not to mention the multiple family members who’ve sworn they could tackle one more task on ladders of their own—only to end up with brain bleeds and broken legs. So… the odds and my very DNA were stacked against me.

But I was determined to do that attic dive.

I pushed aside the chintzy lone nutcracker.

A box of décor we never use.

Lawn chairs.

Snow sleds.

Artifacts from raising children and cleaning out our elders’ estates.

And I found my J O Y.

I ridded the letters of their suffocating black trash bags.

Braved the wind and the chill, and I laid them out in the grass.

Little Miss Muse and I gave them a facelift to fit into my office along with the three-tiered-plush-pink cat tree, jiggle dragons, a concrete office goose in charge of marketing, and an alien-obsessed cockatoo.

Because I suppose the Hubs will still want to tell time in December 2024, and I think it’ll be very depressing if we hit decoration season again and he declares, “Let’s leave joy in the attic.”

No… Let’s not.

Let’s display J O Y all year. A galvanized, jazzed-up reminder. Joy is a choice. Joy is on purpose.

And since 2024 has one more day than 2023, this is most definitely the year to buckle down on J O Y — and not leave the fate of 2025 to a chintzy lone nutcracker.


P.S. (This stands for “post-spraypainting,” in case you were wondering.)

I know my letters are drippy and uneven.

Turns out I paint like I cook. Just imagine the following scene that played out on painting J O Y day and translate it over to my kitchen. Not much difference in the method or the outcome... except for the smiling part. (Seriously, I don’t know how my house still stands.)

I didn’t read the directions—how hard can it be? Point and shoot.

Well… It was very windy and cold. Like can’t feel my fingers cold.

Then the yellow paint can busts, but I don’t realize right away because my fingers were freezing and I couldn't feel the wetness.

My letters were drippy and uneven.

Then my skin was drippy. And uneven.

Then I got paint on my pants.

And my sweatshirt.

And my Fitbit, which was telling me I earned “Zone Minutes” doing this particular activity that required not much movement. All adrenaline and apprehension, baby.

Then I couldn’t get back into the house because I would get pink paint on the new door.

So I tuck my hands up in my sweatshirt cuffs, further spreading blue paint and try to open the door that way. Two cats forget they’re inside kitties and attempt an escape, but I can’t touch them because… wet drippy yellow paint.

Do the “keep-the-kitties-inside” dance on one leg with arms above my head. No one escaped.

Another congratulatory message from Fitbit. “You’re doing aerobics.” Yes, yes, I am.

Get paint on the sink turning on the water.

Water doesn’t wash this stuff off.

Get paint on the keyboard Googling how to get off spray paint. Find the nail polish remover. Go back to the sink. Pour the remover onto an old dishtowel, but not before I get paint on the cabinet.

It starts to work but smears paint all over the place. Yellow. Blue. Pink. Mostly yellow. I look like I’ve washed my hands in Dijon mustard and didn’t rinse.  

Keep going until my skin burns from the cold and the acetone.

Call it good enough. I’ll be mustard-colored for however long it takes to wear off.

Realize I needed to backtrack everywhere I’ve stepped, nail polish remover in hand, to clean up all the micro-messes.

Another high-five from my now-yellow Fitbit. All those steps.

Notice the paint on my sweatpants transferred to my office chair when I sat down to Google how to get paint off my skin. Pink.

Realize as I’m scrubbing pink and yellow off the keyboard’s space bar that those letters are gonna need another coat if I want to erase the drips. And that yellow paint can is still gonna be busted.

I see there’s also paint on my mouse. Blue. Transferred from the cuff of my sweatshirt.

Then it happens.

I feel it first in my cheeks. The start of a smile (something I don’t do in the kitchen, so here’s where that analogy ends).

J O Y has spread.

From out of the attic after eleven months in black trash bags. Into the year 2024 with its 366 days, plowing past that chintzy lone nutcracker into the backyard. To the porch. To the kitchen. To the office. Skin, clothes, computer equipment.

All over the place. Pink and Blue and Yellow.

Then I laugh.

And I make some executive decisions:

      My J O Y will be drippy. To remind me it’s messy sometimes.

      My J O Y will be uneven. To remind me some days be like that. Lopsided.

      My J O Y is all over the place. A little here, a little there. And I have reminders of it.

      My J O Y is mine. You can share in it if you’d like.

Laugh with me. At me. Enjoy my lopsided attempts at, well, nearly anything with printed directions. If you want your J O Y to be smooth and uniform, that’s okay. Make it so.

Then spread it around.

Love the Blog? Try These!

Compilations of 100 posts, complete with commentary from Little Miss Muse!