Taking Down Christmas

As I’m writing this my Christmas tree is still up. This is an anomaly for me. My usual routine is to ring in the New Year with a house that has been restored to its pre-holiday status.

I’ve always thought of it as starting the year with a clean slate and clean carpet because once the tree comes down it’s time to get out the beloved carpet shampooer and go to town on the area rugs. Yes, I’m in a long-term relationship with my Bissell.

Now excuse me while I veer off topic but I feel the number one baby present for any new parent should be the gift of a carpet shampooer with car attachments. This is because if you make it through a day without a kid spilling, spitting, or any other kind of projectile fluid disbursal then it’s a cause for a celebration and by that I mean a trip to Target without the kids.

Okay, enough about the perfect baby gift and back to Christmas trees. I know there are many varied opinions and customs about how long you should keep your tree up and with more people having artificial trees you could seriously never take your tree down.

That prospect makes me shudder because I’m a firm believer in giving each holiday it’s due to celebrate it’s unique specialness. For example, and I know this is becoming unfashionable, but I stand behind my decision to give Thanksgiving the respect it deserves and not eat turkey and stuffing with an array of ceramic Santa Clauses peeking at me.

My one holiday at a time philosophy induced an anxiety attack several years ago at Disneyland where unbeknownst to me the classic Haunted Mansion had been reimagined into the Tim Burton film the “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

This basically meant that Halloween and Christmas had been robustly intertwined. Ghosts haunting Christmas trees, gingerbread men and candy corn (two great tastes that don’t go together) and possessed ornaments it was all too much.

Half-way through the ride I had to put my head between my legs and take deep breaths. Fortunate, after eating a Disneyland churro I was able to rebound.

All of this is why I’m a little concerned that I haven’t taken down my tree yet. In my world of holiday celebrations Christmas is officially over once I peel the cellophane off my new calendar. Rest assured though I’m not  a Grinch who takes their tree down on December 25.

Oh yes, I know several people who take their tree down on December 25. I have one friend whose former mother-in-law would literally tear down Christmas – like pack it all away the minute the last present was open.

Can you imagine? I told this friend to watch her back because anyone who would demolish any sight of Christmas that aggressively on Christmas morning had in my book serial killer tendencies.

As this friend’s marriage eventually deteriorated she told me she would always be sure she was the last person to open a present and then take an inordinately long amount of time, ever so slowly tearing the paper, admiring the bow etc. just to tweak her mother-in-law who was chomping at the bit to get that tree down.

Honesty, I don’t know if that took courage or if my friend had a death wish.

As for me I’m conflicted about taking everything down. It’s been a rough year and all the holiday décor has been a welcome distraction. I don’t know if I’m ready to face 2021 without the buffer of Christmas.

But soon, very soon, mainly because I have a real tree it’s all going to have to come down and I’ll be left with a clean house devoid of Santa Claus, sparkle and red and green garlands.

My hope is the magic of Christmas will still linger as I embark on a new year filled with hope but still overwhelmed with uncertainty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death by Snow Villages

My first words of wisdom for 2018 are be careful what gifts you ooh and aah over because it could come back to bite you in the butt – big time.

Thirty long years ago I received a darling Snow Village from my mother-in-law as a Christmas present. For those of you blissfully unaware of the wonder of holiday tchotchkes a Snow Village is a brand of ceramics that depict winter scenes with yuletide flair. There’s train stations, diners, ice cream shops, ski lodges etc.

My first Snow Village was an old-fashioned movie theatre, dripping in snow with White Christmas on the marquee. I was delighted by the gift since I was newly married and had zero in the way of holiday decoration.

Now three decades in I’m buried in Snow Villages. My lovely mother-in-law has given me at least one Snow Village every year for Christmas and I think they maybe the death of me.

Alert readers may now be recalling how I wrote about pine garland trying to kill me in December of 2016, but that was operator error (me, a six-foot ladder and a hammer – what could go wrong?) The Snow Villages are out for blood and it has nothing to do with me being an idiot.

Let’s start with examining where the attempted murder took place – my basement. There you’ll find more than 60 Styrofoam boxes strewed on the floor. Each Snow Village is packed in a Styrofoam box designed to fit their unique structure. Putting the Snow Village back in its correct box is such a tight squeeze that the sound of gently cramming the village in its storage coffin creates a sound so shrill and nerve shattering that it makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like Brahms Lullaby.

Now imagine hearing this sound 30 plus times. It feels like my brain is seizing. I even wear my lawn mower earmuffs and it’s still like my auditory canal is getting a beat down from a masonry drill. I’m sure in some CIA prisoner de-briefing room there’s an agent wearing NASA grade hearing protection repeatedly putting Snow Villages into their Styrofoam boxes in hopes of eliciting a confession.

Once I’ve cheated death and survived putting the Snow Villages back in their Styrofoam pods it’s time to move onto part two of the storage conundrum or as I like to call it murder by Christmas crates.

Due to the unique size of each Snow Village you can’t fit that many into those large red and green bins you get from Target. This means in Snow Village math that I need almost two dozen bins to house the villages. Then I must stack each of these large plastic units in the icky part of my basement that looks like’s an abandon concrete munitions storage bunker from WWII.

As I’m standing back and admiring my brute strength and majestic stacking ability that created four rows of bins that measure 5 crates high the whole monument to my organizational skills starts falling. First the top crate in the middle comes for me, like right at me, as if I was a bullseye in a carnival shooting gallery. Then they all start tumbling. It was an avalanche of plastic.

I start screaming, but in the deep sub terrain space of your basement no one can hear your cries for help. As I lay on the cold concrete floor covered in Christmas bins I think about crying and selling all the Snow Villages on Craig’s List. But then I bucked up.

These Snow Villages will not vanquish me. I got up, restacked the bins, albeit this time only four crates high, and told myself that perhaps next Christmas the villages would get a time out in the basement that would last the entire holiday or eternity.

Are You Telling Me You’re “More Christian” Than Me Because You Keep Your Christmas Tree Up Longer?

17-sarcastic-Christmas-tree-humorDid you know the date when you decide to take your holiday decorations down says a lot about you? I sure didn’t. I just assumed that folks eventually got around to it. Of course, I’ve been known to make snide comments about people who still have a Christmas tree in their living room and outdoor inflatables littering their yard on Valentine’s Day. But I had no idea there is what amounts to a de-Christmasing personality profile.

Last week, right before New Year’s Eve, I was talking to a group of women and I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to take down all my decorations and was counting the minutes until I could put my Christmas tree out of it’s misery. (At this point it was jettisoning needles with a vengeance.)

Our family tradition is to keep the tree up until January first and then it’s a full-scale purge of Christmas. It can’t just be me who thinks that your house looks twice as big after the Santas, the Snow Villages, the stockings, the extensive collection of vintage pinecones (don’t ask, just feel sorry for me) and North Pole Snow Globe city is returned to the basement?

Well, as I was expressing my soon to be joy of de-Christmasing, I got a stern look from one of the woman. Correction on that look. It was stern with a mix of superiority and a wee bit of pious. Yes, her chin was most definitely doing the pious thing. You know, kind of cocked to the side with a tilt. She asked me if I was a Christian. I give her a look that said, “Hey, there idiot” and replied, “Umm, yes, of course since I’m talking about taking down C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s decorations.”

She snorted back, “Well, I always have to ask because you know a lot of people do the Santa thing, but really aren’t what I would call Christians.”

I rolled my eyes and waited. I knew there was more and indeed there was. I got a lecture about how Christmas lasts until January 6 with the Feast of Epiphany and how all her decorations stay up until then. I joked that at my house the Feast of Epiphany is when my kids go back to school. No one laughed. (“Come on that’s funny? Right?)  Instead “Pious Chin” gave me a look that one would usually reserve for heretics or people who write checks at the grocery store.

Before I had to chance to defend myself another woman, with some hipster glasses, butted in with her tale of how she keeps her decorations up until at least the third Sunday after Christmas because of the “historical vagaries” of the birth of Christ.”

Oh my, was that a religious throwdown I just heard? On the off-chance it was I was staying put and settling in. This could be getting good. The first couple of seconds it seemed like nothing was going to happen. I felt duty bound, in the name of theological study, to help the discussion along so I directed a question towards Pious Chin and half laughing asked, “Does that mean she’s more devout because she keeps her tree up longer?”

Ladies and gentlemen we have lift off. Pious Chin informed Hipster Glasses that she didn’t know what she was talking about with the whole “vagaries” comment. Hipster began to give the Chin a discourse about December 25. She had me through the Winter Solstice, but lost me at Gregorian calendar. It was good for a while, the whole tit for tat thing. It was like watching a version of Bible Jeopardy. “I’ll take Luke 2:8 for 100 Alex.”

Because I started this chitchat/feud I to wanted to end it before it got any more heated. I figured the best way to do this was to call a truce by complimenting both women on their outstanding biblical knowledge. This did nothing to deter the “conversation.” I was going to have to pull out the heavy artillery.

I went big. I asked about their kids. Specifically, if their children were going to take part in the Duke Talent Identification program for gifted elementary school students. I didn’t even have a chance to fully enunciate the word gifted before these two were off the Bible and on to test scores. It was a like a WWF cage match. You know if the wrestlers wore J. Crew and carried iPhones in Lilly Pulitzer floral cases.

I slowly backed away and thanked Jesus (birthday undetermined) that I’m a little bit of an idiot. Okay, maybe not an idiot, but let’s just say not much of a deep thinker. That for me it’s just holiday decorations, not a treatise on my faith, and this girl can only look at a creepy pine cone collection for so long before it’s got to be boxed up and banished to the basement.

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 **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.