I know Black Friday has been discussed ad nauseum – I even wrote my previous blog on the subject – But there is another tradition that takes place on the day after Thanksgiving. It garners no attention in the papers or television, but it transforms my abode into a tribute to the most wonderful time of the year. Submitted for your approval and entering its eleventh year, the day my wife Charger Gal and I set up Christmas in our home.
I’d like to tell you we conduct this transformation at such an early date due to our deep love for Kris Kringle, shiny lights, and the colors green and red, but it’s really based on practicality: We’re both off work and the calendar for December always fills up prior to its arrival. So with turkey still digesting within my girth and caffeine coursing through my veins due to a run to Coffee Bean (Suck It Starbucks), I begin pulling out the multitude of storage bins in the corner of the garage reserved for holiday cheer.
Now at the risk of coming across as self-absorbed, I have always had a fantasy that Vegas is fond of setting odds for whether or not I will wrench my back transporting the Christmas bins from garage to house. When we lived in our apartment and I had to climb up and down a narrow flight of stairs to accomplish this task, this was even money. Nowadays the distance is shorter but the body is creakier, so call it two to one. I complete the task without ending up like a retired professional wrestler, much to fantasy Vegas’ chagrin.
Charger Gal now begins looking through each bin, inevitably leading to her annual proclamation that something is missing. As she investigates this further, I pop in Elf for its annual viewing and reacquaint myself with Bob Newhart’s hysterical opening monologue. (Nobody has ever known how to evoke more gut busting laughter from a stutter as Newhart) The opening credits begin and I turn back to Charger Gal, who has nearly completed to assembling of our fake tree. Yes, I said fake tree. I saw as a child how quickly real trees can go up in flames and destroy property, so feel free to sweep up dead pine needles while waiting for you seven foot match to alight. I’ll be A-OK settling for Charger Gal’s Christmas Tree candle and a slightly off kilter looking oversize phony plant thankyouverymuch.
With the tree complete, our attention now turns to the ornaments. Charger Gal has three goals with this process: Make sure there are enough plush ornaments to hang on the bottom of the tree in case our dog B Is Love gets a hankering to do some unannounced tree rearranging, make sure everything else that goes on the tree is personalized to us and our life, and make sure I don’t break any said personalized objects. There are also ornaments whose time has passed, leading Charger Gal to have a Boyz II Men “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” moment of remembrance before turning to me and somberly stating “Dump ‘em Michael.”
The ornaments are hung on the tree with care, amid hunger pangs that tell us food must soon be fed there. Charger Gal and I retreat to the kitchen (singing the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” duet from Elf all the way) to make a couple of plates of leftovers. Charger Gal is very specific in creating her leftover plate, ensuring that all components of her feast avoid contact with each other. Conversely, I throw everything into my leftover bowl and form a goulash that Bluto Blutarsky would be proud of. (And you wonder why she worries about her sentimental ornaments?) We return to the living room and proceed to set out our Christmas houses, Carolers, snowmen, CD’s, books, and a generous helping of Santas. This is done while simultaneously fending off B Is Love from helping herself to our leftover feasts. The final touch of the inside décor is hanging up our initialized stockings. I always place them in C,M,B order in the hopes someone will get the subtle New Jack City reference, but no one ever does.
Now we move outside to hang the lights. Our relationship’s unorthodox but successful dynamic springs to the forefront as it is Charger Gal who climbs up our made in 1958 ladder and hangs the lights while I hand her clips, hold the ladder steady, and attempt to read the minds of passersby. Charger Gal actually gets a kick out of handling the task so I have no problem giving her the moment.
We return inside and settle on the couch to watch Will Ferrell save Christmas. I examine the house, its festive vibe punctuating the completed make over. I cuddle with Charger Gal while B Is Love lies at our feet and think to myself how warm and safe this all feels…and how it will all be back to what passes for normal these days in a month.
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