Now that Niklaus is out of the way, the holiday season started officially today. We like to start early on Christmas (I use the word to please Sarah Pallin, whose happiness is very important to me), because the preceding days are more appealing than the days following, with leftovers, nothing under the trees, full waste bins, and nothing to look forward to (except in our case, because we usually fly to someplace warm...which is another reason to enjoy the pre-Christmas period).
We bought (my wife decided) a tree; and I fought with the strings of lights and boxes of decorations. As I sit here and write worthless words, I gaze at my work of festive art. I must admit that my wife chose a good tree: evenly grown, chunky in shape, and straight-backed. I did a good job with the decoration, but I do most years. Now, we can start piling the presents underneath as they are bought and wrapped. As always, there will be too many, which is only fitting to our food fortune in life’s lottery.
Usually, we have the largest Christmas tree that will fit in our living room. The ceiling is about 9 feet high, which provides an idea of past trees’ sizes. Not this year.
Because of expected frequent visits of a drool monster, who insists on touching, feeling, pulling, and tasting anything on which he can latch his grubby (because he has crawled around on our floors) hands, we are forced to place the tree out of reach. We prefer this to a fenced-in tree. Of course, this is cheaper (which is an argument my wife has refused to honor in any past discussion about tree size) and easier to decorate. Knowing that littles one like to pull themselves up on anything and everything, I have used building clamps to firmly fasten the sheet used to replicate “snow” under the tree.
Despite my best efforts, I expect the kid to win...
* Stealth German Word of the Day: Tannenbaum is a fir tree or cone-bearing evergreen tree. In German, this word does not mean Christmas tree: the word is Weihnachtsbaum.
Anyone knowing the famous Christmas song, who understands German, will have noticed the foolishness of the lyric that goes "...how green are your leaves..." Whoever wrote this song must not have ever seen a Tannenbaum or studied botany.
Some people stockpile food, water, batteries, etc. fearing a future disaster.
This provides some comfort, even if preparation could be futile.
My wife stocks up on Christmas tree lights. Many people have defective strings of lights from previous years in their cellars; we have boxes of new ones. Her greatest fear is to be decorating the tree--a major event each year--and have a string of lights not work. Or not have enough lights to make the tree bright enough to be spotted from outer space.
She does not accept the logic of living in the 21st century, when stores are open at all hours. Buying a new chain of lights would be easy and quick. Unfortunately, even a delay of a few hours would mean mental anguish. She can sleep soundly throughout the year only knowing that a ready supply, with plenty of back-up, is safely stored in the cellar. She is not interested in learning that I use the same lights each year, so she buys more year after year. When I tell her that we have enough to last a lifetime, her logic is that--unlike food--lights do not perish.
Instead of decking the halls with boughs of holly, I can deck them with boxes of light chords...
_ Christmas comes but once a year...or so the saying goes. Fortunately.
The human male was designed to hunt (after he has reproduced the species...or tried), not to hang Christmas lights and decorations. It must be some form of revenge, concocted by the “most vicious of the species” (Rudyard Kipling’s words, not mine).
Today, was the first of many days of decorating the house, inside and out, for the latest installment of the ancient Pagan celebration (of what, I do not know), which was later stolen by Christians (to lazy or stupid to think up an original one) and more recently by marketers of a wide variety of goods and services. Children, who may or may not have played a role in Pagan festivities, have now been successfully indoctrinated to demand more and more.
I was fortunate to have good weather and mild temperatures (see earlier posts about climate change), because hanging outdoor lights is usually associated with cold fingers and ears. Of course, my supervisor remained indoors, with an occasional opening of a window to criticize, suggest, or bark additional tasks.
Since this should be the season of peace on earth (and at home) and goodwill towards all men (as well as vicious ones and supervisors), I smiled and did what was expected of a modern man at this time of year.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.