December 8, 2008


It's Monday and I have the definite feeling that this is going to be quite a week. So while I get strapped in and guzzle some coffee, let's recap the weekend and figure out why I'm already so beat. Over the last 48 hours, I:

  • had a little family birthday party
  • opened gifts
  • went to swimming class (for Mia, not me)
  • braved Target for Christmas related things not once but twice
  • decorated the outside of the house in Arctic conditions
  • bought a tree
  • decorated a tree
  • caught up on a little Tivo
  • went on a date (with my wife, people)
  • responded to approximately 8,392,110 of Mia's questions which started and ended with the word why
  • identified potential Christmas gifts for Beth to buy me
  • finished a book
  • started a book; and
  • listened to some tunes

All that combined with the stress of the Christmas season pretty much explains why, for a few minutes here and there this weekend, I kinda felt like I was on the edge. Christmas is a double-edged sword. I love the season but that doesn't mean its not a tremendous pain in the ass. It all comes down to the Christmas lights.

On Saturday, I hauled out our vast collection of outdoor lights and plugged each of them in to see if they worked. 97% failed. So I did what any person in my situation would do - I muttered a few expletives and headed to Target. Unfortunately, after you've acquired the lights, the presumption is that you'll actually do something with them. And putting up lights is the thing about the holidays I most hate. Hanging lights makes me want to kill an elf. But I persevered and no diminutive Santa's helpers were harmed in any way. It turns out dropping $70 at Target can get you a pretty impressive light show even if they do look like they were arranged by a drunk, blind monkey.

Sunday found us face to face with another light crisis. After we'd bought our tree, Beth tested out the vast collection of indoor lights. Unlike the outdoor lights, 97% of them did not fail. They all failed. I repeated Saturday's procedure - expletives and Target. Unfortunately the vast majority of the greater Washington area had descended on Target. Half of them were still in the store while they had all conspired to rid the place of lights. I climbed shelves until I snagged the last five boxes of lights. Then I took them home and made Beth put them on the tree. I do this for our marriage. I turn into a bit of an asshole when I have to do the lights. Allow me to illustrate using actual examples from the recent past.

What I Mean: You think we need more lights on the tree?
What I Say: More lights? Are you fucking kidding me? This tree needs more lights like I need an impacted colon.

What I Mean: Is the tree straight?
What I Say: This fucker better be fucking straight, goddamn it.

What I Mean: I'm really looking forward to this Christmas season!
What I Say: Why couldn't we be Jewish?

What I Mean: Could you please hand me that string of lights?
What I Say: Just give me the goddamn lights so I can be done with this shit.

What I Mean: Well, this certainly looks festive.
What I Say: Fuck it. I'm done.

When it comes to me and lights, I'm a real barrel of rainbows, puppies and sunshine. But I'm happy to report that we're all decorated and festive this year and my marriage remains intact.

What are your favorite parts of the holidays? And your least favorite?

Posted by Chris at December 8, 2008 6:27 AM

This year I broke down and let my husband buy a fake tree with lights. It looks great but I will miss the three of us going out and cutting down our own - which I knew would be a 3-ring circus trying to figure out when CollegeBoy would be available (usually between 3 and 6 on Sunday afternoons). We gave up on outdoor lights long ago - the only outdoor thing is a wreath!
My favorite part of the holidays will sound commercialized but it's the buying of gifts for my husband and son. I get to buy them what I know they want as well as things they need. I keep lists and count everything up and make sure the stockings (mine too!) have a pretty even number of things and the two of them have a healthy number of things under the tree. We are super frugal the rest of the year so it gives me the chance to spend!
Least favorite is having to take down the decorations and put my house back in order. It seems so empty when everything is put away!

Posted by: NancyJak at December 8, 2008 7:31 AM

I love pretty much everything about the season but especially getting together for our big family Christmas party. So much fun, good laughs just a really great time.

My least favorite things, RUDE PEOPLE in stores (as if you really need to push me out of the way for some cheese crackers on sale, they'll still be there 2 mins from now) and Christmas music in the stores and radio way way way way way too early.

Posted by: Deirdre at December 8, 2008 8:08 AM

Oh man...I'm just starting to get ready for the holidays - but for me, that basically just means packing to go down to Mum's and then do stuff with them down there.
Also, right now, packing includes PACKING FOR MEXICO, because I'll be leaving from my grandaprents'/mum's on the 27th for PUERTO VALLARTA. *ahem* I am kind of excited. Sorry about the caps ;) And the gloating lol.

Posted by: Heather at December 8, 2008 8:20 AM

I love how excited my kids are. I love finding the PERFECT gift for someone. I love gingerbread (oh! do I love gingerbread so much - I made a few different recipes this weekend and have been taste testing like crazy to find THE BEST recipe. Yeah, I feel a bit bloated today).

What I don't love? Yesterday I had to meet my family at the mall to get some stuff done. I had no one to watch my kids. Taking a 6 and 3 year old through the mall at christmas time? I got in the car at the end of the afternoon and wanted to recline my seat and take a nap. It was CRAZY.

Posted by: Sarah at December 8, 2008 8:21 AM

I have been a real Grinch for the last 3-4 years, including no tree. But now that our kid is 2, it was actually fun to decorate for Xmas this year with her "help". So I think my favorite part is being able to see Xmas thru her eyes. My least favorite part has to be picking up and putting all the shit away in January. It takes three times as long and the fun is definitely GONE. If there were a service where you could pay to have someone else put your Christmas shit away, I'd definitely consider it.

Posted by: Shelly at December 8, 2008 8:55 AM

I bought a pre-lit christmas tree this year. This year it works. Next year I might have to go back to Target and buy a lawnmower to destroy the tree when the pre-lit lights decide to retire early. But for now we are lit up like the edge of hell must look.

Posted by: Kristy at December 8, 2008 9:07 AM

I bought a pre-lit christmas tree this year. This year it works. Next year I might have to go back to Target and buy a lawnmower to destroy the tree when the pre-lit lights decide to retire early. But for now we are lit up like the edge of hell must look.

Posted by: Kristy at December 8, 2008 9:16 AM

My favorite and least favorite thing are one in the same - the tree! I love putting it up, it's my masterpiece but I loathe our tree. it never unfolds right and I tend to be OCD about the decorating so one many many occasions the tree has almost gone out the window.

I also hate snow w/ the fire of a thousand suns!

Posted by: Kris at December 8, 2008 9:22 AM

For me, the best part is the giving and receiving of gifts. Sometimes it's almost as much fun to pick out the perfect gift than it is to see what I'm getting this year.

The worst? It's a tie between Christmas music (GAAAH) the scene in the stores. The parking situation is a nightmare and people seem to be even dumber than usual. That's why I do most of my shopping online. :-)

Posted by: Fraulein N at December 8, 2008 9:27 AM

The best part is I only have wrapping, baking and assembling of a Green Machine left.

The worst part, is I hate how retailers make me feel like I am sooo behind with all my Christmas tasks, when really I am right on time! Bleh.

Posted by: steff at December 8, 2008 9:29 AM

the food and weight gain are the best.
no sarcasm.

Posted by: holly at December 8, 2008 9:32 AM

Ha! I went to Target too. And then I promptly killed myself.

The lights are my dad's least favorite part of Christmas, too. Oh, the fond memories of making cookies with my mom while my dad angrily swore and canceled Christmas in the other room.

Eventually, he just said fuck it. We got a fake tree, and he never, ever took the lights off. Just put the tree away in the garage.

But then he didn't have anything to do while we made cookies. So, y'know. There's always that.

Posted by: caleal at December 8, 2008 9:34 AM

We have a fake tree- I really don't have the patience to do the whole real tree thing, it sounds stressful. And I love those things you meant versus what you said, hilarious.

Posted by: La Petite Belle at December 8, 2008 9:42 AM

I like the gift exchange, and I love the lights and Christmas decorations in houses, etc. The best part is the kids reactions to all of those things though. So great. I really do love Christmas.

Worst part? Fucking lights. I fucking hate 'em. Inside and out. Fuckers.

We did survive the Mall Santa yesterday, and I didn't have to go all Wayne Brady and choke a bitch, so, Ho Ho HO!

Merry Christmas!

Posted by: Brad at December 8, 2008 10:07 AM

i thought it was just normal to have a cheerful husband while he puts up the christmas lights. but i'm starting to feel extra lucky. a friend of mine told me just yesterday how crabby her husband gets, too.

the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Posted by: kati at December 8, 2008 10:13 AM

Cards, I hate cards more than anything. I love the rest (btw, a fake prelit tree takes all of the tree light issues away :). I decorate, I shop, I wrap, I bake...all fun. But sitting down and writing cards is just horrible. I hate making sure all the addresses are right, making sure I send to everyone who sends me cards, having some left so that if I receive a random card I can quickly send one out in the mail...ugh!!! Couldn't we all just agree not to send cards?

Posted by: Jean at December 8, 2008 10:25 AM

Why don't your lights work? Do you need me to buy you a tester?

Actually, I used to have the same reaction. I'd pull the lights out of the box in a jumbled clusterfuck, try untangling them for about 20 minutes, finally give up grunting "fuck it" and go buy new strands. Not very ecological but for $10-20 a box it's pretty economical. All that changed when we moved to Houston and Mrs. Smoke hired a company to put up the lights and wreaths on the house. Now all I have to do is haul the fuckers up and down from the attic in the garage and hope I don't break my back or leg.

I did get my Homer Santa up though... for about 5 years now we've been know as oh yea, you're the house with the Homer Santa. Like it's subversive or something (which actually it is). Frickin tight assed Republican Christians.

Ah... Christmas.

Posted by: Johnny Smoke at December 8, 2008 10:40 AM

My favorite part of the holidays - I don't have anybody I have to buy presents for!!!!! And no one comes to my house, so no having to pull out all the Christmas crap. Pancakes for the dogs on Christmas morning and that's it. Absolutely fabulous.

Posted by: Heather at December 8, 2008 10:53 AM

All I can say is, keep Beth. She is the sane one in this marriage. Like me and Hubby. He's definitely the sane one, cause your little talk with yourself sounds just like me!

Posted by: Maribeth at December 8, 2008 10:54 AM times like this it's good to be jewish, with relatives who celebrate christmas. they do all the dirty work, and i get to reap the benefits ;)

Posted by: ali at December 8, 2008 11:04 AM

I love the twenty dozen cookies my Mom bakes from scratch. (I'm not exaggerating; if anything, that's an underestimate.) Nothing says "I love you" like ten different kinds of cookies waiting for you at home.

I have sworn off shopping in malls and big box stores over the holidays. Haven't done it for probably ten years - not worth the headache. If it's not in my neighborhood's little shopping area, or online, I can pass it up. Life is too short.

Posted by: Laura at December 8, 2008 11:58 AM

This post made me laugh outloud! I love it! This would be why when Gay Boyfriend asked me to help with the lights, I said, "Are you fucking kidding me?" And he got all pissy and pouty and I said, "Fuck off, I hate Christmas anyway." And when I came home at it was all done and beautiful, I apologized and said it was best I didn't help or he might not speak to me for a month!

Posted by: k8 at December 8, 2008 12:17 PM

Favorite part - the parties and seeing my friends and family.

Least favorite part. Absolutely, positively, everything else.

Posted by: mindy at December 8, 2008 12:21 PM

This is the first Christmas song I ever learned. It might help.

Posted by: Mr Lady at December 8, 2008 12:36 PM

My favorite part? Wrapping Presents.

My least favorite part? Too much exposure to crazy family members.

Posted by: Amy at December 8, 2008 1:22 PM

Lights bring out the worst in us. I once had an absolute breakdown, sobbing, because NO ONE would help me put the lights on the tree and it was Christmas and you are supposed to WANT to help me make a nice tree. Actually went into the bedroom and sobbed!

During the after Christmas sales I went out and bought a pre-lit tree...before they were less expensive. Taught my husband a valuable lesson! Don't make me cry!

Posted by: daisy at December 8, 2008 2:43 PM

Reminds me of the scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark kicks the hell out of the plastic santa when the lights dont work. Hilarious.

Least favorite part of the holidays? Taking the lights DOWN. Confession? Mine have been down for two months. Yep. October. I'm that guy.

Posted by: Matt at December 8, 2008 3:54 PM

I get like that too. I want the house cleaned up before I start doing the decorating and it never happens. Holidays are frustrating.

Posted by: Peggy at December 8, 2008 7:15 PM

The only part of the holidays that I don't LOVE is having to "force" D to get the stuff out of the attic so I can decorate. I love decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping...I'm one of those totally twisted people that loves every part of this holiday...including going to church and singing Christmas hymns.

Posted by: Krush at December 8, 2008 10:00 PM

So, um, did you identify these gifts TO Beth? Because apparently you didn't do that so well for your birthday...! Glad you had a good, albiet arctic, birthday weekend!

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2008 10:51 PM

LED lights are your friend. We're slowly moving to LED because they're more expensive but they last a lot longer, cheaper to use, and they're not hot to the touch.

Posted by: Kelley at December 9, 2008 10:28 AM

Forgot to say, my favorite parts of the holiday are shopping with Lilli for Jeff's present, trying not to giggle when she's subtly (yeah right, she's 8) pumping me for ideas about my present, and watching Holiday Inn. I used to watch it every Christmas Eve with my dad. After he passed away, it was probably five years before I could handle watching it again. I'm hoping Lilli will learn to love it too.

Posted by: Kelley at December 9, 2008 10:33 AM

If I wasn't already Jewish the whole light thing would certainly make me convert.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2008 12:55 PM

If I wasn't already Jewish the whole light thing would certainly make me convert.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2008 12:55 PM