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The Holly and the Ivy and the Glowing Plastic Baby


It’s that time of year again; time for my annual Christmas decorating guilt.
I’m not big on decking my halls beyond recognition, mostly because I don’t want to invest the hours it takes to put them up, maintain them and, worst of all, take them down. There is nothing more depressing than taking down Christmas decorations, which is another reason God put Dirtman into my life. Dirtman can’t wait to yank down that annoying tree that puts a glare on the television and that our Parson Russell Terrier Salt keeps eyeing longingly.
Yet I always wonder if my family would like for one year to be dazzled by thousands of flashing lights and maniacally jolly snowmen. Perhaps they would enjoy those blinking red lights on a plastic Christmas tree that plays 26 Christmas carols over and over with that metallic clinking that is supposed to be a computerized version of bells but sounds more like icicles scraping on a blackboard and gets into your head, waking you up because it’s infiltrated your sleep with nightmares of being rendered deaf by a psycho Quasimodo dressed in a red velvet suit with white fur trim. I’m afraid to ask.
A few weeks before Christmas, even I feel the urge to bedeck my toilet with a happy smiling Santa face, even knowing, as the mother of two teenage boys, exactly what comments will be made for which I will have to scold them while admitting to myself that it’s exactly what I was thinking.
But I’ve developed a strategy for preventing myself from making a fatal holiday décor purchase I will later regret. I envision the same item thrown on the bargain table along with masses of other useless red and green detritus on December 26th. It doesn’t look quite as enticing, even priced 75 percent off.
I’m not entirely a Scrooge. We have a tree with lights and ornaments. The ornaments are pretty old and some quite ratty-looking. When Topper, our male Australian Shepherd, was a puppy, he had a particular fondness for teething on a white unicorn ornament. But you can still make out that it’s some sort of a horse-like creature and there is even the suggestion of a golden horn left on its head. A stranger may not know what it is hanging there, but we do, so the unicorn stays along with the rubber plucked chicken with the holly around its neck that was Dirtman’s when I married him and about which I’m afraid to ask.
I want to add that one ornament we don’t have on our tree is one of those pickles that catalogs tout as “an old German/Dutch/Danish tradition,” but that I suspect was a wicked marketing joke by someone stuck with thousands of glass pickles they had to unload in a hurry. Or maybe some Madison Avenue dare: find the most unlikely thing to make an ornament out of and trying to get the gullible public to find it a necessity. Anyway, no pickle at the Jackson house.
This year I am also decking the mantel, since this year for the first time in my married life, I have a mantel to deck.
However, my decorating does not extend to my person, so my ears will not jingle and my hat will not blink.
In addition, the reason why my animals love me is because I never once forced them to have their pictures taken dressed as Santa Claus or with reindeer antlers, even though our other Parson Russell Terrier, Gaspode, would make an ideal Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I hope when I am old and my kids stash me in a nursing home somewhere, caregivers will afford me the same dignity.
So, as in all things, I try to practice moderation in my holiday decorating. Greenery on the mantel, candles in the windows, wreath on the door. No fake Santas clinging to my roof, no plastic Saviors being watched over by a glowing Mary and Joseph, no fake icicles hanging inexplicably from my sheltered front window.
But there are some pretty spectacular houses out there and, as the actual holiday draws near, I always have the urge to do more and more. Perhaps an electrified reindeer or two! Or how about giant fake candles flanking the driveway!
It’s amazing how taste flies out the window in the presence of the pervading smell of bayberry.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:49 AM | Permalink

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