Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crazy Takes a Holiday

Christmas, to be exact.
I grew up in a house where Christmas was truly the focus of our year. My mom would decorate every inch of our house on the day after Thanksgiving, including covering our 80-ft wooden banister with no less than eight (yes, eight!) layers of garland, lights, berries, and bows. We would take down nearly every framed picture in the house and replace it with a Christmas themed one. Basically our 4-day Thanksgiving weekend was one day of eating and parades, three of slave-labor as my mom's army of tinsel-bearing elves. I swear, I have a scar from shoving the super-scratchy garland in and out of the wooden spindles hundreds of times. I remember a visitor once saying "wow, it looks like Better Homes and Gardens threw up in here."
I think she meant it as a compliment. As picked on as I felt when other kids were shopping that weekend, our house was always beautiful at Christmas, and I loved it.
My mom started sneaking the occasional Christmas movie around July, and getting her Christmas music fixes regularly come October, as long as Dad wasn't home to mock her. November 1st was the magic day after which she could listen to Christmas music in the open, with my dad promising (but usually failing) to shut up about it and keep the teasing to a minimum.
As a result, I love Christmas. I really do, and not just because Christmas Eve is my birthday--I love how the excitement in our home becomes more and more tangible as December marches on. I loved acting out the nativity with my cousins when I was little and fighting over which sheet was more appropriate for a shepherd to wear versus Mary, and digging around for something shiny so the Wise Men could have a touch of bling. I loved how we eventually ended up with so many advent calendars going that it added 10 minutes to our morning routine to open the all. I love the movie A Christmas Story and can watch it again no matter how many times I've seen it that year. I loved the stress of whittling down our wishes to the two gifts we were allowed to request, only to find that on occasion, one of the desperately wanted but cut items would show up on Christmas morning anyway. I love the fact that Santa managed to find sealing wax for me the one year I got insanely into the olden days and decided I had to have it (all this in pre-internet time). I love how my parents always took time to teach us the true meaning of Christmas, and after all the debacle of the day--birthday presents, opening Christmas Jammies, leaving out cookies and "Santa drink" (my brother's name for eggnog), at the end of the night, Christmas Eve and Christmas day are all about the story of Christ's birth. I loved hearing my dad speak on Sunday as bishop, always talking about the importance and joy of the first Christmas.
In short, I'm no grinch, and I probably could rival any one of Santa's most ardent helpers.
But I try not to be loony about it. I try to give Thanksgiving its due, and no matter how excited I get, I try to remain normal as much as possible.
My husband has no such compulsion to appear normal. Since we will be gone for Christmas this year, visiting my parents in their own little Christmas boutique, Daniel decided we won't get to enjoy the full season of our Christmas decorations and that will never do.
So he decided to decorate early. Way too early. Last weekend, he unceremoniously yanked down the pumpkins and spiderwebs and put up snowmen, trees, and reindeer. Our garbage is full until the truck comes, so our whithering pumpkins are still on the porch while sleigh bells can be heard inside. Everything is up except the tree and outside lights.
We are psycho.
I just shrugged and went along with it because no one ever comes over anyway, and I love Christmas too. If I had visiting friends, I would have taken him on, but these days it's mostly cell phone calls and email. I went along with it until he hauled out the outdoor wreath.
I'm fine with us being crazy, but I see no need to broadcast it to the neighbors. We duked it out for a little while, but ultimately, he can reach the wreath holder and I can't, so I lost that one.
We are now the only house in the neighborhood with a Christmas wreath. I'm so embarrassed.
Not only that, but after 20+ years of my brother, sister, and me competing for the coveted title of "favorite child" (and don't you tell me there isn't one, because we know there has to be and don't want to hear we've wasted the effort), my husband has single-handedly stolen the top spot in my mom's heart. He is the new Christmas-nut, and I challenge anyone to take the title away from him. As embarrassed as I am, its adorable to see him talking to Sam about her first Christmas and showing her all our carefully collected decorations.
So, whatever, we're crazy. But we're just crazy enough to be fun, and that's okay with me after all. Nothing says Christmas like a 92-degree day in early November.
Happy Holidays.

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