My son sold fresh Christmas wreaths as a fundraiser and the wreaths came in yesterday. Because they're fresh, I wanted to deliver them promptly. When I dropped off a couple of items at my friend's house, she was already knee-deep in Christmas mode. The outdoor lights were up and she had several decorations in her house -- candles, knick-knacks, even an undecorated tree. And her three-year old daughter was making gingerbread men. Really?
I felt like such a slouch. I have nothing outside or inside my house yet that remotely looks like Christmas (OK, except for the aforementioned wreath, which I of course bought from my son and which my husband is now refusing to allow me to nail to the semi-new front door). Sheesh, when I dropped the wreath off with my friend, I had just gotten off work, picked up said wreaths, returned home to get son #2 cranked up on homework, ventured out to deliver said wreaths, and then was on my way to the grocery store to do my weekly shopping, making sure to pick up some rice to go with the teriyaki beef in the crock pot at home. I then returned home with the groceries, finished making the dinner, helped both boys with homework, read with son #1, and then sat down to write for an hour before bedtime. Gingerbread men? (This friend is a stay-at-home mom, which is a topic for a whole other post!)
Back to the Christmas decorations. I do put up outdoor lights on occasion because the kids like them. But if I don't get those suckers up by the week after Thanksgiving, I never will. Then the excuse becomes, "I'm not going to put up lights for two freakin' weeks." Notice the outdoor lights fall under my purview? Isn't the "man of the house" the one who usually hauls out the ladder and gets tangled in strings of lights and lets loose with a few choice epithets? Not in our household. My husband: "I don't care if we have lights, but if you want them you can put them up." Chivalry is dead, I tell you.
That's for the outdoors. For indoors, my Christmas decorations are pithy indeed. I have a few Christmas-themed candle holders, which I drag out, and the kids' stockings go up on the fireplace. We usually get our tree, a fresh one because I like the smell, a few weeks before Christmas and then we take it down the day after Christmas. My husband is paranoid about fires. (He's coming across as a real Scrooge, isn't he?) Although I've seen fancier, prettier, neater trees than ours, I love our ornaments because a lot of them consist of crappy pieces of popsicle sticks stuck together to form a reindeer with antlers or used CDs with a picture of one of my boys as a toddler stuck on it, and other (poorly) homemade ornaments that my kids created in pre-school. I love those crummy ornaments. When we decorate the tree, I always insist on playing Christmas music. I usually put on The Philadelphia Orchestra playing The Nutcracker or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Christmas carols.
Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of Christmas - the music! I love Christmas music. Son #2 is in choir this year in middle school (don't ask me why, he barely moves his lips when he sings in a choir performance - looks like he's experiencing some major fright or something, which is weird because he's a really good singer otherwise when he's singing along with Jay Sean or Fergie). That's totally off-topic, but I'd much prefer to sit and listen to Christmas carols (and sing along) than decorate my house!
Happily, not everyone feels that way and we have a "Candy Cane Lane" in our town. It's a street where every house on the block decorates. I've heard it's even written in the contract when someone sells their house in this neighborhood. One house has a train track in their front yard; another house has an outdoor movie theater set up where "It's a Wonderful Life" plays continuously; one house plays Christmas carols from speakers in the yard; and Santa holds court at the end of the cul-de-sac a few nights a week.
That is my decorating confession. How about you? Do you go all out or do you barely get a tree up?
Ah, and to make the season even more hectic, it is son #2's birthday today. He's 12 and is now as tall as I am. Once he surpasses me, I will be the shortest person in my household. Son #1 already towers above me. So for the big birthday bash, I am taking him and 8 of his closest friends to see the movie The Blind Side, then I'm taking them to In 'n Out (don't ask - exclusively West Coast burger joint), then they're returning to our house for cake and ice cream, an Xbox fest, and a sleepover (that means I will have 10 boys in my house for several hours - can't wait). My husband will be holed up in our bedroom with his earplugs in...