If the onslaught of buy one get one half off sales, the bombardment of mail from retail chains, and trampled store employees has yet to clue you in…Tis the Season!
Christmas is rapidly closing in on us. Nothing gets you more merry, jolly, ready to side step anyone not in a full on sprint in store aisles, and throat punch senior citizens for the latest and greatest whatever like putting up the decorations.
Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving (when I usually come out of the tryptophan coma I’ve been in for the past 48 hours wears off), my family and I unload the Christmas decorations, put on some holiday music, and turn our house in to Santa’s backyard.
Sometimes I have been known to smite the makers of outside Christmas lights in a flurry of swear words and unmitigated anger. Sometimes everything lights, no one cries, and no one has to say any Hail Mary’s for taking the Lord’s name in vain…repeatedly. Regardless of how it goes, communication is the key to making sure everyone survives this day and all 37 Santas find their proper resting place for the next month.
Sunday after Thanksgiving. 8am
“Let’s go.” When my wife shakes my leg like she’s mixing a gallon can of Glidden paint, it must be something noteworthy.
“Waa…whe…where are we going?”
“Sometimes I don’t know if you play dumb or you just are? We’re decorating the house today. Wake up.”
“It would be nice to be awoken by a kiss and maybe some breakfast as opposed to your insults and shaking my kneecap out of place don’t you think?”
“You have 30 seconds to get up or else I’m calling the kids up here and I’m getting a bucket of ice water.” Its not how you say things in my house, its what you say.
“I’m up! You think I can eat before we start?”
“You have 10 minutes. I’m timing you. Aaaand go.” She’s being generous. I would have bet she only gave me 5 minutes.
“I’m going to church. Make sure to get everything out of the basement. When I come home I’m going to start.”
“Wait…you woke me up because we’re decorating but now we’re not decorating until you get home?” Even with my limited capacity for logic before my 3rd cup of coffee, I knew this didn’t sound right.
“Who said ‘we’? You’re going to start now. I’m going to start when I come home.”
“Oh, well that makes more sense…wait a second!” Dammit. She got me on a technicality.
“Do you know where everything is in the basement?” Do I know where everything is in the basement, who does she think she’s talking to?
“Well you had better think long and hard about it because I’m not spending all day looking.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll find everything.” I don’t think either of us believed me.
“Did you find everything?”
“Yes, while you were singing and rejoicing in the glory at church I found everything.” She must have been praying for a miracle while she was there.
“That’s the power of prayer.” She was.
“I need a break.”
“What?! What do you mean you need a break?”
“I mean, I just hauled up what amounts to the entirety of contents from Hangar 51 up from our basement. I’m starting to lose feeling in my lower extremities.”
“Do you need a long break?” She’s all heart this one.
“As soon as I can slip my L2 through L5 discs back in to place I should be good.”
“Don’t get melodramatic you wimp.”
“I’m beginning to think you care more about the decorations than me?”
“I’ll answer that as soon as I find out if you broke anything bringing up the containers.”
“That is not where that Santa goes!”
“I think he looks good here.” As any man will attest, wherever you put anything always looks good.
“Move him over here.” What I wanted to say to my wife would have set in to motion events that only would have ended badly…for me. I chose my next words carefully.
“Then I’ll move him over there honey.”
“The tree is next.” I don’t know why she sounds excited about this. Putting up our tree is like reverse engineering the guidance system to a Sidewinder missile*.
Before opening up the Pandora’s Box that is the Tupperware container holding the branches to our tree, I convinced my wife I should go outside and hang the lights. I needed a break and even though I risk a mild heart attack from a combination of fear from teetering on a ladder and rage when the lights don’t work, it seemed like my best option.
I would eventually get everything working, slow my pulse back down, and quietly came back in to the house. Some might say I “snuck” back in to the house.
“I know you’re in here. If you wanted me not to know you were in, try not turning on the football game.”
“You know, after 11 years of putting this thing together, I think I qualify for my honorary degree in engineering.”
“Yes, the kids and I will be sure to sing your praises after you’re done.”
“I don’t think you understand the complexity of this project?” Most of the color coding of the branches had fallen off by year 5. I only had my wits and keen vision to guide me.
“Yeah, big ones on the bottom. Little ones on the top. What are you going to do next, split the atom?”
“Don’t you have a Santa to move or something?”
“It looks gappy.”
“Is that the right branch?”
“Aren’t you finished yet?”
“Did you do something different this year, the tree doesn’t look the same?”
“Let me do it.” My wife is a machine gun of criticisms.
“Can’t you go harass the kids or something? They’ve been quiet for a good 45 minutes, I’m sure they’re up to no good.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means if you say one more word about this damn tree, I’m converting to Judaism and getting a menorah.”
“So sorry to hurt your feelings Scrooge.”
“At least Scrooge didn’t decorate his house with the Ghost of Christmas Future.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re scaring the dog.”
“Did you finish the lights on the tree yet?”
“Because apparently a Boy Scout snuck in to our house last year and put the lights in to a knot that got him his Eagle Scout award.”
“When are you going to be done?”
“Well, I quit the Scouts at Webelo so it might be a little while.”
“Well hurry up Davy Crockett.”
“Davy Crockett wasn’t a Boy Scout, he was the King of the Wild Frontier.” I’m sorry, but how could I let her get away with such an egregious violation of an analogy like that?
“You don’t finish soon, consider the living room your Alamo.”
“A bit frightening but spot on with that one sweetheart. Good job.”
We finally finished decorating. Truth be told, I took a small break around the 8 minute mark of the 3rd quarter of the Eagles game so I could watch a few minutes of it but we finished and I think the Christmas Spirit finally sunk in with both of us by then.
“It looks good right? Tree is up and lit. Santas are all in their proper positions. I think we are chock full of Christmas Spirit around here.”
“That snowman is out of place and the tree still looks crooked.”
At least the Christmas Spirit was in one of us.
*We have a fake tree. 11 years ago, while pregnant with our first daughter, my wife developed a heightened olfactory sense to the point of being almost superhuman. The smell of pine from a fresh tree gagged her. Even after our daughter had been born and I knew she no longer had the range of smell of a bloodhound, she insisted the smell still bothered her so we still have a fake tree.