You’ve heard of “The first gift of Christmas!” I present, “The last scrap of Christmas!”

Today’s prompt: What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

I used to take pride in getting holiday decorations down quickly and efficiently.

When we only had two tiny tots, I would “strike” Christmas on Christmas afternoon.

“Strike” is a theatre term and Jesse and I are theatre people. When a show is over, you immediately “strike” the set. You take it down, flat by flat, piece by piece, screw by screw. You store the set, lights and props, roll up the marley, return the costumes and clean the hell out of the stage.

We apply a similar logic to holiday decorations. At first, Jesse wasn’t completely on board.

“Don’t you think it’s a little soon?” he asked, silently indicating our bewildered children.

“They won’t remember,” I’d say as I worked maniacally to “cleanse” the house. “They’re young!”

Once we had all four kids, we would force ourselves to wait until December 26 to take down the decorations. The kids appreciated our efficiency. That’s what I told myself.

This year Fern said, “Can we not take down the tree the day after Christmas?”

She made several good points about relaxing. Her siblings agreed with her so we kept the decorations up until they were ready for them to come down.

I wasn’t sure when that would be. I didn’t ask because I didn’t want them to think I was pressuring them. I silently wondered if we’d become “that house” that has their decorations up until April.

“There are worse things we could be,” I told myself, not believing a word of it.

I came home from work on December 31 to a dark house. The kids had taken down most of the decorations and I was so relieved and grateful! It turns out they had grown tired of waiting for me to “pull the plug” on the Christmas decorations and made a decision took care of the “strike” themselves. Fern said she was getting impatient.

“We don’t want them up in the new year!” she said.

They did a terrific job but there are still some holiday scraps. For instance, there is a strand of Christmas lights still hanging over the entrance to the sun room. I just went in there to take a photograph of my “most challenging chore” for this blog and realized Jocelyn was doing her barre work in the background.

Though I’m used to her practicing ballet a few feet from me while I write in the early morning darkness, I don’t often watch. I wouldn’t have seen this pretty moment if we didn’t have the scraps. I think I’ll leave the lights up a little longer.

Thanks for reading!

Strikingly yours,


Santa in a stretch

Most mornings before school, Jocelyn gets up at 5-something and practices ballet. Her schedule does not allow her to train at Chicago’s Ruth Page Center for the Arts anymore, so she works the “basics” at the barre in our dining room by herself.

I don’t usually get out of bed until 6:30 but today I had an early start and when I went downstairs, I caught her dancing in pre-dawn darkness.

“Caught” isn’t the right word. “Sensed” is more like it because it was pitch black. Though I couldn’t see or hear her, I knew she was there.

I didn’t want to interrupt her but I needed to see so I turned on the Christmas tree lights. Like Santa filling the stockings in Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas, she briefly turned her head toward me and then “spoke not a word but went straight to [her] work.”

Several years ago, Jesse and I created a “man on the street” video where we asked several people the same question: “Do you believe in Santa?” My friend Christy, a scientist, said she did not but that she loved “Santa moments.”

Sensing my daughter in the dark, then seeing her materialize when I turned on the Christmas tree lights, then carry on her with her ballet was a “Santa moment” for me and a wonderful way to start my day.

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you have your own “Santa moment” today. -Connie

P.S. Here’s that video.

Several people answer the question, “Do you believe in Santa?”

Connie Kuntz is the producer of the Rockford Fringe, a playwright and the music and comedy director for Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago. She lives in Rockford, Illinois with her husband and four children.