The Puddinette, like all of us, has a few inviolate rules. Socks never go on the kitchen counter, no matter how clean. Clothes that have been sullied by the air of the dirty outside world may not come into contact with the delicate, pristine inner sheets of one’s bed. You don’t wear holey pants to church.
And the holiday decorations? They will be put up the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The four days that, for most people, accompany the Thanksgiving holiday can fill up quickly with activities. There’s the Big Day itself, of course, with all it’s thankfulness, gluttony, and gravy sweats. And then the Black Friday business comes. Personally, I avoid all shopping as if the merest consideration of the act will result in an incurable case of some form of plague, but my wife has been known to get into that foolishness with glee.
You’ll be glad to know, thought, that to date, she has not been pepper sprayed or fought over a crock pot (even given her love for them). This is a thing for which we are all glad.
Actually, this year she did only a bit of reasonable mid-day bargain hunting as opposed to the all-night benders of the past. Some years she left the house so early and was out so long, it made me question whether she’d been sucked into a shopping-induced Dr. Who-vian time-vortex, leaving me to raise my children alone.
Getting back to the holiday weekend events, after the retail escapades, there, of course, are always additional family gatherings and what-not to attend over the course of the break. Plus, the usual gears of life continue to turn, meaning youth basketball games, etc, etc.
When it comes to holiday decor, though, none of that matters. Come Hell or high water, it will be put up according to schedule. I personally suspect that in the event available time was simply not sufficient for the task, my wife would either develop some time-stretching device, waving off Einstein-ian physics in the process as something not to be bothered about, or she’d purchase one in a dark, Victorian back-alley from a toothless fellow with a graying pointed hat named "Grim".
Whatever might be required, she will make time for the holidayification of our home.
Not surprisingly, as this entire operation runs counter to the weekly routine I cling to, I don’t tend to look at the decorating phase with much enthusiasm. It’s such a hassle: furniture has to be moved around, boxes have to be located and hauled up from the dark recesses of the basement’s treacherous storage caverns, delicate (read: easily breakable by someone with a drunken bear’s touch) autumn-themed things must be removed but not mishandled, and replaced with wintery accessories.
And obviously, all that cuts into my football-viewing and post-holiday recuperative nap time.
Nonetheless, every year, on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving, I drag the multitude of holiday decoration boxes up (inevitably forgetting at least one), and then the Great Decorating begins.
Every year, I want to grumble and moan, whine and cry, and possibly even pitch a toddler-style fit on the living room floor to keep from having to move the loveseat away from the front window, or lug up the tree boxes and holiday linens. That probably wouldn’t set the best example, admittedly, especially for kids who are now old enough to participate in the task.
They ask about it first thing every morning after Thanksgiving, when I’m just awake, barely able to blink at the fuzzy grey shapes out of one eye that are begging to put up some sort of "tree". At that point, my English is limited to roughly that of a mountain troll, so I’m not exactly sure what a "tree" is.
At any rate, rather than having the King of All Tantrums, I grit my teeth every year, roll up my sleeves, and go about the work of making the house Christmas-y.
Erecting the tree—artificial, mind you, because real trees are several steps beyond too much effort for me (but that’s another post)—checking and putting on the strings of lights, supervising the ornament hanging, and adding the garland are all my responsibilities. While it may seem odd that someone so resistant to the entire operation be tasked with the managing the central element, the thing is, I’m a little…particular…about the final result.
Yes, I’m anal about the Christmas Tree.
The lights must appear to hang without any discernible pattern, even though they are strung together linearly. Ornaments can’t be too close to one another, the garland best not obscure them, and for the Love of All Things Good and Holy, small ornaments go on top, big ones one the bottom.
A Christmas Tree lacking ornamental symmetry is a defiant spit-in-the-face to the entire holiday season. It’s wrong, I tell you. Plain Wrong! Designated hitter wrong! Middle-aged man in a diaper wrong! Just wrong Wrong WRONG!
*takes a deep breath*
As you can see, given the…vehemence…I feel on the issue, the Puddinette was quick to assign me Tree Duty early in our relationship, lest I spend all afternoon raving like a madman at her about why that damned green shiny ball must to be placed lower or Christmas would be grinched.
At the time, I believe her exact words were, "Fine, you do it then." A harrumph may have been included for emphasis.
This past weekend being Thanksgiving weekend, so it was that late Sunday afternoon my entire family was clustered around the faux-pine tree in our living room, hanging ornaments together while Christmas tunes played in the background. And when the kids recited the annual instructions for where to put the big ornaments versus the little in that heavy, eye-rolling, "Yes, Dad, we know" tone, I smiled to myself and started whistling "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." The Johnny Mathis version was a staple tree-trimming tune from my own youthful days of trying not to break glass ornaments under Dad’s watchful eye.
The moment was darn near Rockwellian, a Saturday Evening Post cover. It was also the same moment I remembered that although I resist getting the project started each November, every year, halfway through, I realize that the whole thing is worth a lot more than a hour or two’s worth of napping in the middle of Sunday afternoon.
The thought will bring a smile to my face every day for the next month, when I flip the switch to turn the tree lights on.
And as much as I hate to admit it, the Puddinette’s right, the sooner you get it done, the longer you can enjoy the holiday seasons.