I started writing my last, Christmas-themed, simple observation of everyday life today, and it got me thinking about all the wonderful memories I’ve accumulated over the years during the Holiday season. My mind often drifts back to thoughts of being a young child on Christmas morning. I then think about my own children growing up, and now my first grandchild. I’ve seen Christmas through their eyes, and it brings back memories of the innocence of childhood, the wonder of Christmas, and a belief in magic, as well as in Santa Claus. I’ve put together a few observations of Christmas. Of course, as always, I try to put a humorous twist on things. I hope you see yourself in some of these simple observations.
As someone, whose been married for over twenty-three years, I wonder if any of you, have had your spouse, partner, or significant other say, “Sweetheart, what do you say we don’t get anything for each other this Christmas? We can save money, and concentrate on the kids.” They might have even said, “I don’t need anything, your love is more than enough, or this Christmas, why don’t we set a fifty-dollar limit on what we buy each other?” Did you ever listen to these suggestions? If so, are you still regretting the decision? One year, I played along with my wife, and said, “Okay honey. This year, we’ll only get each other lovely Christmas cards, and we’ll spend the day cuddling by the fire with a good bottle of wine.
On Christmas morning, I awoke to find a tree, hidden by a massive pile of neatly wrapped gifts, reaching almost to the ceiling, and spanning at least eight feet wide. Interspersed among our two son’s gifts, were dozens of brightly wrapped boxes with the name Patrick, boldly written in magic marker, and a single card with the name Barb on it. After staring in shock for a few moments; do you know what I did? I ran down into the basement, pulled out all my secret, emergency gifts for my wife from behind the furnace, and raced to the living room. I may not be the smartest man on the planet, but I’m not the dumbest one either.
You may have also noticed, as the years pass, the types of gifts you give and receive, dramatically changes. Try buying your spouse a toaster on your very first Christmas together, and see what happens. Even if it’s the “Cuisinart CPT-435 Countdown,”4-slice stainless steel model, with the blue LED function button, bagel defrost, and removable crumb tray. It’s not very pretty. After twenty years, give your life partner, a Keurig Platinum K70, single-serve coffee machine with a K-cup carousel, loaded with the finest selection of delicious teas, coffees, hot chocolates and lattes, and see what happens – it’s magic.
I’m looking forward to this Christmas. Yesterday, I was looking at the latest in efficient and practical, house cleaning technology. I was completely mesmerized by the new ‘Dyson DC65 Animal Complete,” upright vacuum cleaner. It includes: the radial root cyclone technology, the self-adjusting cleaner head, and the reconfigured brush bar. “What an amazing Christmas gift,” I thought to myself. I’ve been trying to bring up the subject with my wife, by mumbling about the old, worn-out vacuum we have, and left an ad for the Dyson Animal on the kitchen table. I know how hard my wife works. Maybe she’ll realize how it would make both our lives a little easier. Hopefully, it will be under the tree this year – with my name on it!
My family used to have a tradition of bundling up in warm clothing, piling in the car, and heading down to our local bank, where Boy Scout Troop 309 would sell pre-cut trees, delicious, all-meat hot dogs, and steaming cups of cocoa. The problem was, the trees would usually have sat on the lot for three weeks, leave a trail of pine needles as we drug them into our house, and be dead and turning brown within three days. A few years ago, we began a new tradition of cutting down our own trees. Fresh cut trees are great, but getting them is tough. If you think about it, “cut your own trees,” is a pretty sweet deal for the tree farm owners. You take a cart and a saw, trudge miles up a steep, wind-swept mountainside in ten-degree weather, and look at seven-thousand trees until your family can agree on the most crooked, pitiful looking one. You then crouch on cold damp earth, cut it down, and haul it five miles back to a guy who says, “that will be fifty bucks; have a nice day.”
Do you know who loves fresh-cut Christmas trees more than anyone in the world? No, it’s not me. After spending an hour jamming it into a wobbly tree stand, turning it around to hide the inevitable bald spot, meticulously decorating it, and watering it eight times a day, I’m happy when I finally get to drag it to the curb. My two cats though, just love fresh Christmas trees. Within five minutes after the trees up, they’ve reverted back to their primitive ancestors. They both spend the days leading up to Christmas, living in, and under the tree, as they stalk unwary prey, and eat pine needles. I’m never surprised to wake up on Christmas morning to face a magnificent lighted tree with beautiful decorations and silver tinsel lying on its side amid presents, broken bulbs, and two cats trying to look innocent, with expressions that say, “We have no idea what happened. We think it was the dog.”
Have any of you, ever had a romantic meal at an expensive restaurant with a finely aged bottle of wine, followed by a waiter handing you a menu filled with exquisite desserts? As you perused a mouth-watering list of the finest pastries cakes, and delicacies, did you turn to your waiter and say, “Hmmm…….The candy canes look good. We’ll have two, please?” Of course not. They taste horrible? Nobody, except little kids needing a sugar high will even attempt to eat one. Can’t someone invent a candy cane that tastes like finely aged Kobe Beef, instead of peppermint or spearmint? Do they even make candy canes anymore, or do the same ones get put out every year? My wife pulls them off the tree after Christmas, packs them up in a box, and reuses them the next year. When I was a kid, I took a bite of one on a dare. It immediately shattered into ten thousand, rock-hard, and razor-sharp pieces of what looked like glass. I ended up chipping a tooth, and almost took out Aunt Sophie’s one good eye with a piece, I inadvertently spit out while choking.
When I was a kid, my mom would always tell me things like, “Don’t run with scissors, watch out with that stick; you’re going to take an eye out, or don’t pick up the neighbor’s bobcat by the tail.” She never once warned me about candy canes. Have you ever seen a well-meaning parent hand a small, cute, innocent baby a huge candy cane? Pretty scary, huh?
Have any of you ever bought six hundred tubes of wrapping paper on the day after Christmas for 75% off, brought them home, and stuffed them into a hall closet for next year? Did the cycle repeat itself each year? Do you now have enough Christmas wrapping paper in your basement to completely cover the Empire State Building? Do you think that when trees see lumberjacks enter a forest with an ax in one hand, and a white and red cap with a little bell, perched upon their heads they say, “Oh, no. It looks like it’s Christmas time again. Come on guys. Let’s slouch a little. Maybe then, we won’t be cut down, and turned into Holiday wrapping paper.”
This year I bought all my Christmas presents at one store, and had them professionally wrapped by store personnel who have spent decades learning the fine art of perfectly wrapping Christmas gifts. Wrapping paper seems kind of a waste to me. Wouldn’t it be better for the environment to not wrap anything, and to just wear blindfolds on Christmas morning? I have two questions. How long does that beautiful wrapping job last until it becomes a gigantic pile of multi-colored, crumpled up trash that is then jammed into big, black garbage bags and drug to the curb? Did you say about five seconds? Do you think that the women who work as gift wrappers, sometimes go nuts on Christmas morning after watching hordes of children systematically, in a matter of minutes, destroy all their hard work?
How many of you, still buy tinsel to decorate your Christmas trees? My family’s Christmas trees always had 4,348 strands of silver tinsel. I know, because it was always my job to take the individual strands, which were inevitably tangled in a horrific twisted mess, and place them one by one on the tree. Do you know what tinsel really is? It’s aluminum foil that’s run through a giant paper shredder by over-worked Chinese workers. Here are a few other things you might not know about tinsel. For some insane reason, cats love it. Given the chance, they will ingest huge quantities, and then either throw it up, or run around the house with pieces coming out of their butts. Tinsel is also indestructible, and gets into everything including your hair, food, and clothes. It will remain in your house under furniture, and in the carpet, forever! Oh, one last thing. Don’t bite into it. If you think biting into a metal fork or spoon is bad, then don’t try tinsel.
I guess, it’s time to end this simple of observation of every day life, take a much-needed break from writing until after Christmas, enjoy a few parties, and a dozen or so eggnog, celebrate with friends and family, and watch my dog and two cats ignore their presents, and play for hours with crumpled up wrapping paper. Before I go; I have just one question. Is that white spun glass called “Angel Hair,” that looked and felt like the lair of large and hideous arachnids still around? As a kid, we always had it on our tree. It was beautiful, but was sticky and itchy, and my brother would put fake spiders in it, and then push me into the tree. Ahhh……. Those wonderful Christmas memories.