I’m a little bit of a late bloomer when it comes to getting ready for Christmas. I'm kind of like those bulbs you have to plant in your flower garden in the dead of winter to turn into flowers come spring. Or maybe it’s the seeds you plant. However it goes, Father Christmas won't be seeing my bloomers til half past Valentine's Day.
But for the first time since the Power Ranger incident of '02, I started shopping before Christmas this year. I was going to wait, but the operators were standing by and I had to call right away to get the Ginsu knives.
Although I don’t go full out in the decorating area, you can tell it’s Christmas around my house by subtle changes in the décor. Just keep an eye out for mutations in the dust patterns on the coffee table.
I’ve moved the nativity scene that I forgot to put away last Christmas from the shelf in the laundry room to the top of the entertainment center, dusted off the baby Jesus, and removed the dryer sheet from the shepherd’s staff. The shepherd isn't quite as festive without his lint-free banner, but now it smells a little more like a stable and less like the Snuggle bear.
What appears to be stray tree limbs connected by lumps of fur in one corner of the living room is actually a small Frasier fir holding up under the strain of the investigative processes of two Labradors, three cats, and an inquisitive Dachshund sporting a Christmas tree skirt. Occasionally the tree gives a shudder and deposits various small animals on the floor. If it lived in the Hundred Acre Wood, my tree would be Eeyore.
There are 1,497 gift bags of assorted sizes and heritage covering every available flat surface, along with several containers of used bows that are perfectly suitable for family gifts if you affix them to packages with a loop of Scotch tape. There is no Scotch tape anywhere in the house. There are several dozen wood screws of assorted sizes in the junk drawer, but repeated attempts at giftwrap show that the wood screw is not a device that is effective for this purpose.
The kitchen table is covered with bits of burned sugar cookies and ingredients for partially assembled gelatin salads and casseroles that will bear offerings of melted cheese and Ritz crackers come Christmas day. This is not considered untidiness in the kitchen, but rather food preparation with holiday flair.
There is a wreath on the outside of the closet door instead of the inside of the closet door. The wreath boasts a giddy Snowman who is on the verge of bursting into the songs of the season just as soon as the Captain tells me where he hid the batteries.
There is a car in the driveway awaiting new tires, a replacement windshield wiper, and a brake job. Nothing says Merry Christmas at our house quite like "there's a front end alignment with your name on it just around the corner."
So for all of you folks who have every Martha Stewartesque napkin folded into snowflakes, don’t judge me on my lack of handmade ornaments and scented candles. Christmas at my house might have a different flavor and a smell that tends more toward PineSol than pine branches, but the spirit is the same.
I might deck my halls with takeout boxes instead of tinsel, but I still have the hope that good will is not just a store where you can get half off every Tuesday.