Warning: Decorating for Christmas Can be Hazardous to your Health

It’s over. Now all that’s left is for me to continue applying Icy Hot to my back and taking a regimen of ibuprofen so I can soon walk, perhaps even bend over, without uttering a profanity.

If you’re worried I was in some sort of accident – fear not. I’m just recovering from decorating for Christmas. For me holiday decor is my Olympics. A decathlon of sorts where for three solid days I lug bin after bin out of my basement and begin the transformation from holiday drab to fab.

For years I have divided my decorating into three separate phases. Phase one begins with getting the Christmas tree and decorating it.

I usually like to get the tree bright and early the day after Thanksgiving. This year due to a University of Texas football game, that please note was on TV and could have been recorded, we had to delay our family outing to select a tree until 3 p.m. Thus setting my decorating schedule back h-o-u-r-s.

That though wasn’t the worst of it. U.T. lost or according to my husband “gave the game away” to Iowa State and he was in a mood that wasn’t the least bit festive.

I, totally full of the Christmas spirit, suggested that he might want to pick a new Big 12 team to root for. Perhaps even Iowa State because they haven’t been to a conference championship since 1912. So, that would be fun, historic even, to see them win some more.

This suggestion was met with a glare that still haunts me. It also made the ride to select a tree so lacking in holiday joy not even the Cheetah Girls Christmas CD from 2005 featuring the classic “Marshmallow World” could serve as a mood booster.

Luckily it didn’t impact our quest for the perfect Noble pine. We found one quickly and then I moved on to perusing wreaths. Shortly after that I discovered my husband had gone MIA. I sent my son to look for him and he reported back while laughing “that dad was walking off the game.”

Seriously, I wanted to throw a 20-inch Frasier fir wreath at my husband. Who allows football to usurp their holiday joy?

The next day I was barely ambulatory and a tad queasy after staying up till 2 a.m. to finish decorating the tree while subsisting on Pepperidge Farm peppermint cookies and Diet Coke. But I rallied and began phase two – exterior illumination.

This is where I almost lost my Christmas mojo. None, and I mean none, of the lights in my yards and yards of outdoor holiday garland worked. Granted they were more than a decade old but still I felt like my holly jolly had been kicked to the curb.

It didn’t help that I also had a slight memory of these lights going out last year right before I was going to take them down. But instead of removing the lights from the garland I just shoved them back in a bin.

As I was forced to cut hundreds of lights off with scissors so I could clear the way for new lights I wanted to travel back in time and punch myself in the face.

It was so bad I had to break open a fresh bag of peppermint cookies to make it through that perilous journey.

Fortunately phase three – assorted interior decor not of a Christmas tree nature was less eventful but not without peril. I couldn’t find one of my holiday bins and was at Defcon 1 for a nervous collapse.

Days later all is well – sort of.  I’m still sore from lugging bins and falling off a ladder ( to be clear it was a step stool but still – ouch.) My hope is I’ll be able to climb stairs without cursing very soon.

 

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My 2015 “Magical” Moment

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 10.25.26 AMSomething magical happened to me at Target on Christmas Eve. I was there to up my stocker stuffer game because upon checking my stash of stocking goodies I discovered all I had were holiday breath mints. This confused me because I had bought loads of candy a week earlier. My inventory was quite robust. I had Santa Snickers, Peppermint Hershey Kisses and the much-maligned Reese’s Christmas trees.

Let’s take a moment here and talk about the Reese’s trees. For the people who have so much time on their hands that they can go to Defcon 5 on the Internet about a candy not accurately depicting a balsam fir let me offer up this suggestion – get a life and/or seek therapy. It’s chocolate and peanut butter that should be enough. As for the mystery of where did all my stocking candy go I plead the fifth. I may or may not have consumed it. Now on to my miracle.

I was pushing my cart down the smell good aisle (i.e. soaps, lotions and other assorted body washes) I saw something amiss on the second lowest shelf. An item I had been coveting since the day after Thanksgiving was hiding behind some Axe “Dark Temptation” Gift Packs (and by “dark temptation” I’m guessing Axe means smelling like a combination of a high school cafeteria and the tire department at Walmart). I stopped short and immediately dropped to all fours to claw my way through a bevy of overly aromatic dude scents to get my hands on it. When I finally snagged it I assumed a kneeling position and sang thirty seconds of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Then as I was hoisting myself off the floor I saw another one. Yes, another one, camouflaged by a trio of Vaseline, Spray & Go moisturizer for the mammal that’s too busy to rub in lotion. At first I thought maybe it’s a mirage. How could there be two of the most sought after holiday 2015 item left on Christmas Eve? As I crawled my way to it I noticed a woman intently watching me. To be accurate at first I noticed her Ugg boots with large satin bows on the back. After all I was at ground level. (Note – If you’re old enough to have had an un-ironic disco themed prom and a date who wore a baby blue tuxedo – please try to embrace bow free footwear.) This chick and I were zeroed in on the same item. In fact, Bow Uggs looked ready to pounce. But, I had her. I was already on the ground and there was no way she was beating me to getting another one. It was mine! All mine! (In the spirit of the season I considered sharing, but then, thank goodness, that feeling quickly passed.)

I triumphantly rose up off the Target tile with each arm proudly lifting my bounty like a WWE World Heavyweight showing off his blinged out championship belt studded with 630 cubic zirconia stones. (I looked that factoid up). For you see I had found two Star Showers! Yeah, that’s right. This girl had not one, but two of the latest thing to hit exterior Christmas illumination since net lights.

The Star Shower, just in case you’re remedial on holiday decor innovations, is a laser light that projects a gazillion red and green holographic stars onto your house and the best part is all you have to do is shove the thing in your grass and plug it in. No untangling strands of lights so entwined that you question your sanity and fine motor skills, no hours spent hanging lights until your carpal tunnels flares up, no climbing on a ladder, no freaking light hooks or crying when you can’t find the one blasted light that is out causing you to really start hating the holidays. Nope, the Star Shower eliminates all of that. It’s like idiot proofing Christmas.

I had been looking for a Star Shower for a month. They were sold out everywhere. Amazon got my hopes up and pretended they had some, but two days after I placed my order I was informed that there was a “processing error” on the website and I’d be Star Showerless for Christmas. The struggle was very real.

God bless the Target employee who must be very young and inexperienced in any and all exterior holiday home illumination knowledge and upon seeing boxes with Star Shower emblazoned on them incorrectly assumed the product belonged in the body wash aisle. More glad tidings of joy to the employee who then inadvertently hide the Star Showers behind Axe gift packs and aerosol Vaseline.

As we enter into a new year I shall continue to embrace my holiday magical moment as a reminder that amazing things can happen when you least expect it and that “Dark Temptation” Axe body wash is probably more of a lifestyle choice than a scent preference.

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Forget about all that New Year New You B.S. Jump start 2016 by wallowing in delicious Snarky. Just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

Holiday Decorating = Marital Counseling

I donfunny-pictures-lights-house-christmas-harder-than-you’t admit to being a genius, but I’m telling you I’ve had some pretty good ideas. One of my best is that Waterparks should have on site dermatologists to scan for potentially cancerous moles. Why isn’t this being done? It’s a flesh rich, almost naked environment that is prime mole diagnosis territory. Think of the lives that could be saved! I can’t be the only person that has been behind someone in line for the Colon Irrigation tube slide and not thought, “Wow, that guy’s mole looks suspicious.” Of course, there’s always the off chance that it’s a tattoo designed to look like emerging melanoma, but still it’s not like Mr. Tattoo wouldn’t benefit from the keen eye of a dermatologist.

I came up with my newest awesome idea while at Target this past weekend. Yes, Target. I find the store very inspirational and intellectually stimulating. I was also eating Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread cookies and I think that helped sharpen my thought process. Ginger has been proven to boost the knowledge noggin. Okay, scratch that. I just checked the ingredients absolutely no ginger in the cookie. Let’s just go with the sugar invigorated my sensory stimuli. Any who, as I was munching away on cookies I made my way over to the Christmas lights. I was in need of only a single, 100 count, LED, ice white package of bulbs.

When I reached the holiday decor area I had a little trouble getting to the lights. It was jammed packed with people studying and debating their choices. Seriously, it was the Algonquin roundtable of exterior illumination. There were guys debating the superior lighting power of the C7 compared to the C9, the sphere versus the ball and if the rope light is an adequate substitution for the icicle as it relates to decorating tree trunks.

I was enthralled and was about to ask this collection of bulb brainiacs a question when the bickering started. Not, as you might think, between the glow gurus, but between the husbands and wives. There were spousal disagreements over lighting schemes. For the men, it seems bigger is better (of course). For the women, it was more of a taste issue. Why go for the C9 bulb when twinkle lights will “just look classier.”

This is when I had the stellar idea that retail stores that sell Christmas lights should offer free marital counseling the two days after Thanksgiving. Call it a humanitarian public service. A therapist could be on hand to not only act as a referee, but to impart knowledge on problem solving and maybe even do relationship building exercises using the holiday inflatable or blow up as a “yardstick of feelings.”

I have a theory about inflatables. I think they’re making up for some sort of emotional deficiency in a marriage. The more blow-ups in someone’s yard the less affection they may be getting at home. Is there anything sadder looking than an inflatable suffering from erectile dysfunction? It’s pitiful, those heaps of crumpled nylon littering a yard in fabric tombstones that might as well read “R.I.P. Good Taste.” Then when the blowups are getting jets of air shot up their infrastructure they bob and weave like they’ve got their swagger back and yet we all know it’s only a matter of time before their spirits are deflated again and again. If that’s not a metaphor for a marriage in trouble I don’t know what is.

Another holiday light themed till death do us part red flag is the wife who urges, coaxes, maybe even sweet talks her husband into climbing on a ladder, that has seen much better days, and venturing up and up and away to the tippy top of their three-story house. As the hubs is clutching a spool of commercial grade C9 lights, that act as an unbalanced load causing him to sway to and fro, he hoists himself onto the roof as the wife cheers, “go just a little bit higher” which is code for “I just paid your life insurance policy and this will be so much better and quicker than a divorce.”

And don’t even me started on the husband who asks his wife to “plug in” the lights while assuring her that the puddle she is standing in won’t matter because the “the electricity is grounded.”

You see there’s a lot of marriage angst and in extreme circumstances death scenarios involved in this whole outside holiday light thing. Imagine the number of marriages that could be rescued and second-degree murder charges averted if a counselor, therapist, or registered smile maker (they have those in California) lurked around the holiday aisles.

Target are you listening?

 

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

My Christmas Tree Makes Me Cry

You knoScreen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.15.23 AMw you may have scarred your children when they refer to decorating the Christmas tree as a pejorative. For example, if something unpleasant has happened they might describe it as “being bad, but not decorating the Christmas tree bad.” It’s all because I have an illness. Really, more of a yuletide related disorder. And this disorder, as most disorders do, relates back to my childhood.

My mother was a florist and decorated people’s homes for the holidays. Her pièce de résistance was the Christmas tree. She was renowned for her ability to turn a simple evergreen into a work of art. One of the ways she showcased her talent was to throw a huge Christmas Eve party where the star of the show was the tree. Some years we had trees so large that my father had to install guide wires and drill metal hooks into the wall to hold the evergreen beast in place. This excessive dedication and devotion (i.e. mental illness; subcategory – addiction and OCD) to finding and decorating the perfect tree leached into my very soul. Every year I’m possessed with what my husband describes as a case of the “Christmas tree crazies.”

The addiction flares up when the fresh trees start getting delivered. I’m on a mission to find the tree that still has its saw scars. Last week, I hit the tannenbaum trifecta when I spied a truck at Whole Foods unloading trees that all passed my rigorous three-part sniff and needle test. For the uninitiated the sniff test requires that the tree have a robust bouquet of pungent pine aroma, with some subtle undertones of sweet sap and a slight, but rich loamy soil finish. I immediately called my husband and told him it was “go time!” He knew exactly what I meant. It’s not like we haven’t trained for this. As soon as mid November rolls around he keeps supplies in his car and is ready at a moment’s notice for “the call.”

Back in the day we would do the whole family thing and make it an outing to find a Christmas tree. But, we had to abandon that Hallmark moment when I would make the kids cry. Seriously, I couldn’t help myself. They have the worst taste in trees. You would have thought they were Charlie Brown. They always gravitated towards the evergreen underachiever. I blame my husband for their lackluster judgment regarding the Abies fraseri (Frasier Fir) because they obviously got some substandard tree gene from his family.

It gets worse when it comes to decorating the tree. They’re all tree slackers. One does not haphazardly place lights and ornaments on a tree in an effort to “just get it done.” Oh, no, there must be a tree story. You’re creating a visual imprint for the holidays. It all starts with the lights. You must exceed 1,000 lights and you start this journey by first wrapping the deep interior of the tree with luminescence using the gentlest of hands or as my mother would say, “you approach the tree as if fairies lived there,” then and only then do you work your way out towards the branches. As for hanging decorations no metal ornament hooks are allowed. What are we animals without opposable thumbs? Each ornament is tied on a tree branch with a satin ribbon.

This tree process is so labor intensive that it makes me cry almost every year. In fact, my family is still recovering from the tree trauma of 2005. I had spent h-o-u-r-s decorating the tree. My kids were still little so I let them “help” and by that I mean having them put ornaments on the tree and then moving them later. Just as I was ready to share the wonder and glory of my creation every single, freaking, light went out. My husband was called in for illumination life support, but nothing we did could get the lights to come back on. My only solution was to take all the decorations and lights off the tree and start over!

It was then that my children learned what the ugly cry is. I wailed! I’m sure a woman having a water birth in a pedicure tub at a nail salon located inside a Walmart would have made less noise. My husband, no doubt, fearing for his and the children’s safety quickly left the house under the guise of getting me new lights. I was left alone with my holiday spirit broken, weeping on my living room floor with the unlit Christmas tree casting a shadow of gloomy mockery on my pain.

It took until 2 o’clock in the morning for me to “redo” that tree. But I did it. I persevered because you can’t quit crazy especially not Christmas crazy.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.