December 9, 2007

Merry, Merry?  Quite Contrary.


The holidays are here!  Warm, fuzzy feelings shared under the glow of lights, family meals highlighted with laughter and fun, and the giving and receiving of tokens of love and appreciation.  It’s time to enjoy all the winter season brings us: cold weather, hot chocolate, sledding, snowman-making, ice storms, frozen windshields, power loss, frost bite…peppermint schnapps.  Anyway, yay!  It’s Christmas! 

There are, as of this writing, 16 days left until Christmas which is plenty of time for the merry to set in and the contrary to abate – or so I keep telling myself.  All indicators thus far though are not exactly pointed in a positive direction.  I managed to order the decorations down from the attic the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Then the following weekend whe (My new word.  The emphasis is on the “he” part, but “whe” just sounds more uh…inclusive, maybe?  It’s working for me, what can I say?) put all the lights on the outside of the house.  Probably we’re not about to be mistaken for the Griswold’s or anything, but we have a decent set up and this year we added a lighted reindeer up above the roofline.  We’re not really talking about why there’s one lone reindeer wandering around up there, though I decided that the rest are below the roofline and out of eyesight to appease my own confusion on the subject.  Hopefully the kids have worked something similar out in their heads and we won’t hear about the “year of the confused, lost and lonely reindeer that wouldn’t get off our roof” over dinner in December, 2024.   

All of that sounds simple enough, right?  Get the decorations out, put them up, and sit back and enjoy.  Well yeah, except half of the lights didn’t work, including a brand new set for the tree that was fresh out of the box.  So we sucked it up and went to buy new lights, some for the outside and some for the tree, only to find once home that one of those sets didn’t work either.  We managed to rig up a couple of half working sets to make the outside finished, after hours of work, several curse words, a few proclamations such as “Why are they blinking?  I just *don’t* understand!”, and one mysterious gouged finger.  Whe have since spent six of the eight nights following this accomplishment outside for no less than 15 minutes each night (and it’s been in the 20 degree range, if you’re lucky, here) because EVERY time we plug them all in, something doesn’t work.  I’m not talking a bulb or two, I’m talking half the house or both outside trees or intermittent outages on the lit boxes lining the sidewalk.  Sometimes all that’s required is smacking them around a bit, and they pop back on.  Sometimes it requires major surgery and a lot more time – and honestly, the joy faded about four days ago.   

Once the tree was up, I broke down out of guilt and let the kids decorate it.  I would classify it as Kindergarten Chic at the moment, and I don’t even have any Kindergarteners!  There was some sort of scuffle of one-upmanship that ended with every ornament they’ve each ever made me all clumped together in one spot right in front, some of them three to one branch – and a good half of them jutting straight out from the tree at odd angles to be sure each and every minute detail can be seen.  Somewhere around January 2nd I figure I’ll have stealthily moved the last ornament into the place where *I* think it should be, just in time to take the whole thing down (which no one will be jumping on one foot, dancing around and begging to help with, let me assure you).   

Next, I couldn’t find my tree skirt.  I’ve wanted a new tree skirt for years but I never want to spend the money before Christmas when they’re all full price and everything.  So a few years ago I bought a really inexpensive one before Christmas (I wanted to switch from red to kind of a burgundy color) with the promise to myself that after Christmas, I’d get a nice one on clearance.  Of course, after Christmas I’m always broke and consider myself pretty lucky to acquire wrapping paper and cards for the following year.  Therefore the stupid cheap skirt has hung around for years, much to my great distress.  Apparently, at some point after Christmas last year - most likely in a moment of bitterness after buying my wrap and cards – I threw the cheap skirt away.  I don’t actually recall doing it, but I must have, because it’s not to be found among the decorations.  I can picture myself thinking that this would force me to get a new skirt this year, and I guess I thought I was going to outsmart myself or something.  I caved and bought a new skirt at TJ Maxx this week but I have to tell you, I feel used.   


My oldest daughter wants the talking parrot that Target had on sale this week.  I, being the resident Scrooge, said “She will use it for ten minutes and then it’ll sit somewhere with the RoboDog, and the R/C trucks, and the vacuum cleaner, and the common sense, and all the other crap they don’t ever use!  I’m not buying it!”  Somehow though, whe changed my mind and it became the one thing she really wanted and how could we not get it?  So, off to Target I went.  He’s not hard to find, just follow the singing and intermittent “Hi!”, all of which can basically be heard for miles.  The thing never shuts up.  I find one, taking note that there is not exactly a shortage of them available even though they’ve been on sale all week, and I give silent applause to all those who passed on this little gem.  I put him in my cart and proceed to cruise the toy section, because there are other (quieter) things I need.  He will NOT stop talking.  He sings “Hot, hot, hot”…over and over again.  Finally I stopped and asked a lady stocking shelves in the toy area if she knew how to shut the thing off, and I got “the look”.  You know, the one that screams “You are SUCH a killjoy, why, *why* would you want to ruin the fun?”  I stayed firm, so she fumbled around for a few minutes and nope, no idea how to turn it off.  I stumble a few more aisles, while “feelin’ hot, hot, hot!” all the while people are turning and staring and wondering who in their right mind would put such a thing in their cart.  Suddenly, inspiration hit and I grabbed a t-shirt I also had in the cart and I open it up, draping it over the bird’s box.  Worked like a charm!  He shut right up.  I placed him right up on the checkout belt with the shirt over him because while I knew he’d be singing again momentarily I didn’t see any reason why *I* had to be the one responsible for making it happen.  You should’ve seen it though, it actually attracted extra checkout people (who apparently had nothing better to do during Christmas shopping season, but whatever) over, “Did you put that there intentionally to make him be quiet?”  You would’ve thought I invented the wheel or something…I think I might be famous and go down in Target lore forever!  It’s much better than the alternative which could’ve ended up being a picture hanging near every register of me with both my hands around the parrot’s throat and a crazed look in my eye.   

I’d like to end with a few Christmas quotes, just to help me (and you too, of course!) slide a little more into the holiday season: 

“Girls, would you like to have your rooms redecorated as a big part of your Christmas gift?  Remember that it means you’ll get less presents under the tree.”  - Me, to my children. 

“Yes!  Plus, Santa will still bring all kinds of stuff so we’ll still get a LOT!”  - My kids, obviously choosing to ignore the “LESS PRESENTS” part of everything I say. 

“It’s freezing in here!  I’m cold!”  - Me, to my husband one recent evening.   

“I think there is some old peppermint schnapps in the cupboard, you could have some of that, it’ll warm you up.”  - My husband, ever the creative thinker. 

“Does that really work or are you trying to get me drunk…I thought that was brandy anyway?” – Me, in response to the creative thinker. 

“Nah!  It works!  My dad used to give it to me all the time when I was eight or nine and ice racing motorcycles.”  - Creative thinker Jr., apparently. 

“Do you suppose *that* could be why every time you tell me an ice racing story it ends with you in a snow bank or worse?  Think maybe it was the schnapps?” – Me, still agog after all these years. 

“Oooh (looking at the television), that’s another thing I want for Christmas!” – Either or both of my kids. 

“There is a cut-off date for Christmas wishes.  I think it was last week, just so you know.” – Me, Scrooge. 

“It can’t be because up until we tell Santa what we want how could he even know?  They wouldn’t cut it off before that!” – Tricksters who probably don’t even still believe in Santa but have learned to work the system. 

“I screwed up because now they think they’re getting new bedrooms plus all the Santa stuff!” – Me to my friend Katrina. 

“You have to make *you* the big gift giver and Santa the cheap ass gift giver, right from the beginning.  That was your first mistake.” – Katrina, getting it right as usual.   

Happy Holidays everyone!  Don’t forget to drink a toast of peppermint schnapps under the twinkling lights, and maybe drop a prayer or two that the batteries in that stupid parrot are of the same poor quality that most light strings seem to be made of.  If that bird is still singing by Christmas eve, I fear for poor Santa’s heart when the thing scares the living daylights out of him as he drops off that huge load of toys he’s apparently bringing - after he finishes painting, carpeting, and buying all new decoration and linens for the bedroom, of course.  I’m sure he’ll be “feelin’ hot, hot, hot” by then, for certain.       



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