Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Its the most WONDERFUL time of the year...

Ahhh yuletide ... or whatever the politically-correct seasonal police require us to call that today -- "tide" probably offends oceanographers and those who are Water Signs on the zodiac. I'm not even 40 and I'm already getting old enough to just not even care!! HA HA - I'm feeling Merry & thought I'd share some of the ways we've gotten festive so far!

1) We send greetings of the season. In my office, Egg nog latte(tm)-fueled marketing managers struggle mightily to create the perfect politically -correct, endearing, inclusive, non-offensive, clever and cute winter-time greeting. The trash baskets overflow with crumpled card prototypes festooned with ill-conceived trees composed of crosses, Muslim moon and stars, and Buddhas, all topped off with a star-of-David. (I wish I were making that up) Other card options feature new, non-sensical words comprised of the 5 or 6 holidays blended together as some version of "Merry Chrismakwanzahannukah", other choices feature lame and uninspiring odes to winter while showcasing a newly Richard Simmons-fit version of snow person. The card options are then presented to our CEO, an unsurprisingly obtuse, rich, white guy who proclaims, "These are crap -- why don't we just say Merry Christmas?!" The HR person in the room clears her throat and the CEO says, "Right, pretend I never said that - why don't you go back and compose some sort of holiday haiku using the world shareholder and value-added?" This is how we say Happy Holidays.

2) We love our neighbors. In our case, the neighbor is a 14 year old boy who would benefit from at least one hitch at a medium-security military school. "Eddie," as we'll call him, routinely rides his bike around the neighborhood for hours while pulling an upside down wagon that makes a hideous screeching noise as it drags along the pavement. One day, I proved that I have become a ridiculous adult by pulling over to ask, "Hey Eddie, how come you pull that wagon around upside down? It has wheels on the other side." In return, I got one of those looks -- those, blank, sociopath, stare-through you, probably seeing you as the gorilla in Donkey Kong that must be destroyed looks. "I dunno" he replied, along with a slouchy, lame, one-shouldered attempt at a shrug. Then we just looked at each other for what felt like eternity before I simply gave up. "OK then ...," I breathed, as I rolled up the window & drove off ... feeling very, very old.
On Saturday, my husband looked out the window and caught Eddie and friends making off with the Christmas lights from our outdoor trees. Apparently they make a really great sound when you smash them on the pavement. Why my husband knows this, I'm not exactly sure. He swears that as a kid, he only used the burnt-out lights his parents gave him, but I narrowed my eyes at this, suspecting a criminal past. I was ready to dial Norman Schwarzkopf to come get his new recruit, when my husband -- always filled with the milk of human kindness -- suggested a different approach. "Let me just talk to Eddie and explain he needs to promise never to do this again, and I'll respect him and not call his parents." His way sounded more rational and humane. I sighed deeply and spend the rest of the afternoon feeling like an inferior human being -- until we drove past Eddie and his buddy on the way out of the neighborhood. My husband rolls down his window and yells "Hey Eddie, you better come talk to me about those lights!" And then he just sped off. I looked back through the car window and Eddie looked stricken - clearly wondering if his parents had been called, or worse. Captain Compassion just let them stew in it for the next twelve hours. I guess there is a brotherhood of thieves, because the next morning I found $10 anonymously placed under our door-knocker. Later, Eddie came back to talk mano-e-mano and tried to finger some other kids who had been stealing even more lights. It's like the mob. Once you flip and turn State's evidence, you point the trail to the bigger fish. Somewhere in my neighborhood waits a Middle-school holiday decoration "Don" holed up in the woods atop a pile of plastic reindeer and inflatable snowmen. He smugly counts Christmas wreaths while dispatching his Capos to get more lights. Any day now we're going to be shaken down for protection money. Where's Elliot Ness when you need him?

3) We enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. A favorite tradition when I was a child was the drive around to look at Christmas decorations. We used to listen to Christmas carols on the radio while we stared through fogged-up car windows at a beautiful rainbow of colored lights reflected off the snow. Today, we live on the South Coast of Massachusetts, and let me just say that the WASPY folk don't really "get" the whole festive lighting concept. The more affluent the town, the more "white" the decorations -- literally. Tiny white candles shine in each window, maybe there's an evergreen wreath on the door. Not very exciting. My two boys squirm in the back seat ... "When are we going to see the GOOOD lights!!" They whine. My 7 year old asks "How come rich people don't have good Christmas lights, they can afford the electricity?" "Hmmm, I don't know." I reply, wondering the same thing. We drive towards some more working-class towns in search of more colorful decorations. The metaphor is not lost on me. Instead of Christmas carols, my four year old insists that we sing the Scooby Doo theme over and over, each time adding more verses about zombies and vampires until the song is too scary to sing anymore. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a good zombie song!

4) We gather around the tree. Every year, we make a big deal about bringing home our Christmas tree. This year we opted for the full Tanenbaum experience of cutting down our own tree from an actual tree farm. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we hiked up to the tree orchard and prepared to claim the perfect tree. There were about 50 beautiful trees in the distance. Unfortunately the Christmas tree "sooners" had all been there before us, staking their claims with little yellow paper tags. If you eliminated all the previously claimed trees, the pickings were slim. Our two boys were undaunted and unwilling to leave that farm without a tree. Suddenly they became blinded by "tree goggles" and picked out a sad little specimen with several bald spots. (I won't go for the obvious joke here). To them, the tree was beautiful and we tied it to the roof and brought it home. At least this year, we learned from past mistakes and didn't drive into the garage with the tree still tied to the roof!
We brought the tree into the living room for our annual tree naming ceremony. Last year's tree was Fred. This year's tree is named.... Crispy Donut. Why? You ask. My eldest wanted "Crispy", my youngest wanted "Donut" and they occasionally compromise.
This season, you can picture our family surrounding the tree, singing "Crispy Donut, Oh Crispy Donut … How we love your sugar coating!”


Blogger sgails said...

Wonderful blog!

Eddie needs attention & a "Big Brother."

Have a lovely crispy donut holiday!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Laughed my butt off about Eddie. I love your blog, sistah. Hope you're doing well. We should have drinks soon.

11:21 AM  

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