Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oh, no. I hope it's not going to be one of those Christmas's...

I am a third of the way through putting up the Christmas lights on the house. Also, we still have the ornament boxes piled around the living room. It's been that kind of week. Putting up the decorations is fun. Dragging the boxes down from the attic and then cleaning up the mess of empty boxes and crumpled newspaper afterward is half the work, and no fun at all. It's because of the stairs, I believe. I believe!

The reason the exterior house lights are taking so long is because I am installing an elaborate system of hooks on the fascia boards, to make the light-hanging of 2010 (and beyond) a breeze. I have to drill out the holes, and then screw in a little hook every two feet or so. I have a lot of roofline, and it's pretty high, so I'm going one hook at a time. It's nice up on the roof, with the Santa's sleigh-eye view of the cul-de-sac, but one wrong move and it will all be remembered as the Christmas where Daddy broke his back. (Which, in my mind, is like most Christmas's, but no one ever remembers.)

We had an AFV moment the other day, but the cameras weren't rolling, unfortunately, so there will be no prize money. The whole family was outside watching Daddy hang the lights. Every head was turned in an equal and opposite direction, and I picked up the ladder and swung it around, a leg of which clocked the Little Digger square in the head, knocking him flat to the ground in a perfect little Buster Keaton-style pratfall. It would have been pretty funny, if it hadn't hurt him so bad. He had a good-sized bump on his head -an AFV-sized bump. That show never seems to go into the resultant medical status of its participants.

Only a few ornaments have been broken so far, but we're only a few days into it, so give us some time. This is the year many ornaments found their way to the Wednesday Morning Curbside Experience, unfortunately for them. We were unpacking box after box of dumb little plastic baubles with corporate logos on them, and I resolved to sequester them away under cover of tree lights late one night. The children will never notice that they're gone, but the dross must be wrapped, ironically, before being placed in the garbage. You see, these kids are always looking through the kitchen trash can, and finding old, forgotten works of art and faded bric-a-brac with dangerous sharp edges. The parents always get a stern rebuke: "HEY! Who threw away my [busted plastic teacup, torn paper with scribble, old ribbon tied to deflated balloon, etc.]? Why? WHY!?"

I don't know where most of these ornaments come from, or how we've accumulated so many. We never buy ornaments, except for the one-per-year for the family ornament exchange. Perhaps we are the family whom no one knows what to get for Christmas, so they get us the old holiday gift standby, The Ornament. And then, I suppose, they are all kept out of a certain obligation. But as soon as an ornament's point of origin is forgotten, it's trash -unless, of course, it is undeniably beautiful, at which point hanging it on the tree risks its doom, since the kids angle for the pretty ones, with breakage on their minds. (I keep the Crazy Glue handy.) Anyway, we have several fine ornaments, all clustered near the top of the tree, clinging to the little ornate ceramic angels, holding on for dear life.

Things break at Christmas, and it's always so unsettling, what with the joy once-removed by broken decorations, broken ornaments, broken just-opened gifts, broken hearts. Perhaps it's all part of The Big Divine Design of Christmas, to repair/renew/replace at year's end, fresh for Spring. Or perhaps God lets it all break on purpose, since there's a nice tree under there.