Last week I wrote about one aspect of the real meaning of the holiday season – the important annual tradition of sending out hundreds of unsigned holiday greeting cards with photos of your kids to hundreds of people you don’t really care if you ever see again along with a four-page newsletter detailing how your past year was far superior to the recipient’s.
This week’s heartfelt post is about another integral part of a truly spiritually fulfilling holiday season: Holiday decorations. This is the fun part of the holidays – starting with your annual climb into the creepy dust-covered cave known as your attic, in search of those Christmas or (insert your preferred alternative holiday here __________________) ornaments.
This will surely bring a smile to your children’s faces as you unpack a treasure trove of decorations collected over the years, like the mechanical dancing Santa that shouts out a jolly “Ho Ho Ho” when you press his tummy. Trust me, this decoration is every bit as tasteful and appreciated now as it was when you bought it as the “special” Christmas present for your wife in 1978.
The first step in turning your house into a festival of holiday cheer is to install a dangerous fire hazard in your family room, also known as the Christmas tree. It’s a ten-step process, so take notes:
Step 1: Drive around to five different Christmas tree lots to find just the perfect tree.
Step 2: Find the perfect tree for your family and negotiate your best offer. If the tree has a sticker price of say $85, start with an offer of $45. When the guy comes back with a price of $85, counter with another offer, this time, say $55. Continue haggling until you settle on a price of $85.
Step 3: Begin to strap the tree to the roof of your car.
Step 4: Realize that you forgot the blanket to protect the roof of your car. Drive home to get blanket.
Step 5: Strap the tree onto the roof of your car, which is now protected by said blanket.
Step 6: Drive home with your tree. For extra fun, sing Christmas carols like “Oh Christmas Tree” to heighten the festive spirit.
Step 7: Notice that the blanket that had been gently flapping against your window is no longer gently flapping against your window. Shout the curse word of your choice. Apologize to Megan, your youngest child, in the back seat and proceed to Step 8.
Step 8: Turn around and search for the tree that fell off your car a few minutes ago.
Step 9: Watch in mild horror as a large truck drives over your tree in the oncoming lane and snaps the tree trunk in two. Repeat curse word you selected in Step 7 above. Apologize to Megan again.
Step 10: Repeat steps 1 through 6 – this time, without all the Christmas caroling – or the blanket.
Once you’ve gotten the tree home in close to one piece, the fun really takes off. Invite your kids to put all of their favorite ornaments on the tree – which of course means that the bottom three feet will have 248 ornaments and the top two feet will have five. Be sure to help Megan top off the tree with her favorite star decoration that she made in Kindergarten – the one that looks like a diseased 11-legged octopus but she insists is a star. It is at approximately this point in time that you realize that you forgot to put the lights on the tree first.
Pretend to laugh with the kids at Daddy’s/Mommy’s silly mistake and proceed to begin the joyous task of taking all the ornaments off the tree, putting on the lights, and doing the decorations all over again. Only this time, the kids have long since completely lost interest and moved on to playing on Play Station 3. Finish putting all the decorations on the tree by yourself. Plug in the lights. Discover that none of the lights that were working 25 minutes ago now work and that you’ll need to replace all of them. Begin the joyous process of removing all the ornaments from the tree once again…
If you are really feeling adventurous, and are insistent that the kids get off the X-Box and join in the FAMILY FUN (“We WILL have fun, damn it!”), get out the tinsel and let the kids put it on as they choose. (Remember, letting them have a say here will empower them and save you lots of expensive counseling bills years later.)
The outdoor lights and lawn decorations are even more important than what goes inside your house. Let your neighbors know that when it comes to remembering your Lord Jesus or (insert the alternate savior of your choice here ________________________) that you will not be outdone by the Terwilligers’ elaborate 8’ plastic Frosty the Snowman snow globe arrangement (that snow globe is so 2008, anyway). No, not this year. This is YOUR year – the year it’s your house that everyone else in the neighborhood sneers at in quiet jealousy. You’re all set to unveil your incredible “Santa and his sleigh, landing on the rooftop of the Nativity Manger” lawn display. You top it off with Yukon Cornelius and the Three Wise Men (who look suspiciously like Groucho, Chico and Harpo for some reason), honoring the baby Jesus, with the supporting cast from the Island of Misfit Toys from that 1960’s animated Christmas special, all to the tune of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”. Very tastefully done.
And don’t forget the most important part of all – the dazzling twinkle lights. Don’t let the Terwilligers’ super techno blinking LED light display (timed to the music of Mannheim Steamroller) intimidate you. You can outdo them. This is the year to coat your house, roof, fence, trees, shrubbery, garden gnomes and youngest child with 20,000 lights that shout out to the world “This is what Christmas is all about. God bless everyone! And take that, Terwilliger family!”
Of course, if this all sounds like a little too much work, there is always Plan B: flying to a Mexican Cancun resort for sunny, warm Christmas instead. You can always do the Christmas lights next year. Feliz Navidad.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011