I woke up with a start, realizing that the box I was in was moving.
How long had I been asleep? Weeks? Months? Was this just some mid-August rearrangement of stuff in the basement or was this the big day itself?
"Max," I whispered, "wake up."
"I'm awake," grunted Max. He was always grumpy when he first woke up.
"What month is it?"
"How should I know?"
"I think we're being carried upstairs," I said. This conclusion was based on the repetitious bumping of our box.
"Well, then, I suppose it's probably that time of year again," said Max.
I could hear muffled music and voices. Then suddenly the lid was lifted off of our box and light washed in. I blinked in the brightness, temporarily blinded.
By the time I could see again, I was hanging on the wall. Max hung next to me. The room looked more or less the same. Was that a new easy-chair? The decorations on the tree looked the same, but the tree looked different. Smaller? How could a tree be smaller after a year of growth? I guessed that they must have pruned it over the summer.
The bright light was harsh and painful, since my eyes were accustomed to almost a year of total darkness at a time. I was quite grateful when, after several hours of waiting, the lights were turned off.
Then, some hours later, I found myself in the center of the beam of a flashlight. My top was pulled open, and various things were dropped down inside of me: foil-wrapped chocolates, candy canes, cookies, and a small toy.
In the morning, a squealing child pulled me down and dumped my contents out on the floor.
Over the next few days, I languished on the floor in various rooms, until the goodies inside me dwindled away to almost nothing. Sometimes Max was in the room with me; other times he was no where to be seen.
And then one day the last few items were dumped out of me and I was placed back into the box with Max. The lid went back on and we found ourselves in darkness again. Back down the stairs we went, there to wait until the next year.
"Good night," Max, I said. But Max was already asleep.