What is it about the holidays that brings out the certifiable lunatic in all of us? Now, I’m not talking the beat-a-brother-down-for-a-Keurig kind of nuts, or that someone-pulled-into-the-spot-I’ve-had-my-blinker-on-for-ten-minutes rage, though they are both very real and valid types of holiday crazy.
What I’m talking about is whatever happens to us physiologically when we crack open that smelly box of Christmas decorations and prepare to adorn our homes.
Ordinarily sane and peaceable people would say, “What ever are you talking about? Surely, you’re mistaken! No crazy comes out of those boxes!” But, au contraire, my friends. Au contraire.
After a too-long trip out for cookie ingredients yesterday, I returned home to find myself foaming at the mouth – and not from my soy latte. My husband had taken the liberty of putting some Christmas lights up on the front of our house. He was given specific instructions: Put the lights up around the garage doors.
Unfortunately, he interpreted the instruction just a touch too liberally, using some creative license to zig-zag the lights across the top of both garage doors. Who does that??
When I composed myself enough to walk though the door, my eyes had already started to glow a rich crimson.
“What is that? WHAT IS THAT???” I demanded, with the restraint of a thousand charging soldiers.
I didn’t want to know what that was, really. An interpretive display? MANSCAPING? I wanted the lights AROUND THE GARAGE DOORS.
No sooner did I turn the corner into the dining room when I found lights snaked about a third of the way up the tree – white lights.
“I hope you’re not planning on mixing colors there,” I snapped, wagging a finger at the tree.
“No,” he said, “I just like the way the white lights look on the tree.”
I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
“But the outside lights are COLORED!” I offered through clenched teeth. “You can’t MIX the COLORS!”
“Why not?” he asked, with all the innocence of a newborn puppy. And if I could have set the tree ablaze with my eyes, I would have.
“Because you CAN’T MIX THEM!”
While I was at DefCon 6, mentally calculating both the social and emotional consequences of our unmatched Christmas lights, my attention turned to the decorations on the sideboard.
Should that basket be in the middle? What about the nativity? That wise man looks a little too close to Mary. He needs to be adjusted. Should I move that Yankee Candle? Is it too far to the left? Those kids need to STOP MOVING THOSE LETTERS. They spell JOY! If you MOVE them, THEY DON’T SPELL JOY ANYMORE!!!
I beseeched my husband to plug in the obscenity he called a light display outside, even though the strands were literally hanging in the air, about fifteen feet from the ground, with no extension or outlet nearby.
“I NEED to see what this looks like!” I scoffed, in my most socially acceptable driveway tone.
He dutifully climbed the ladder and connected three extension cords, one by one, in order to present them to Her Highness.
“Hmph,” I shrugged, “I guess it’s okay,” and stomped back into the house.
I had also returned from the store with a 52-, 56-, and 60-inch tree skirt, trying to find the perfect fit for ours, just as we had found the perfect spacing for the stockings, the greenery, and the ideal placement for the other eight similarly-scented Yankee Candles I’d been hoarding.
Mind you, you can’t walk through the living room without stepping on a broken toy, a couch pillow, or tripping over a blanket. And there were a few days’ worth of mail piled up in the kitchen. And my daughter’s bedroom looked like it rode the teacups and then threw up. There was also, if it even bears a mention, some leftover stuffing on the floor from dinner.
But THE DECORATIONS!!
After stringing the rest of the lights on our monstrosity of a tree, I, of course, decided I wanted them to blink, so I proceeded to out pluck tiny bulbs, replacing them with mystical blinking ones. After a few minutes, I hated it all, and changed it back.
And the kids, with a little light prodding, put up their ornaments – not too high, not too low, not too close together. After a brief tree skirt fashion show, we were finished. The snowman was in the right place, the Santa was pointed in the right direction, and the garland was draped just so over the fireplace.
And then we oohed, and we aahed, and took pictures. And stood all Rockwell-style around the tree.
But there’s no garland on that tree, try as I did to find some that didn’t look like it was made at Mainway Toys. And it was nagging me.
And then the cat puked on my Christmas tablecloth.
But I’ve only yelled a little. So far.
That’s what the season all about, though, isn’t it? Joy, peace, and unconditional love?
My name is Stephanie, and I’m a Christmas maniac.
And I bet, deep down, you are, too.