As a newly elected town councillor, my wife was invited to the town hall annual Christmas dinner, and as her spouse, I was invited along. That’s right: I was political arm candy, and I’ve never been prouder.
Prior to leaving for the event, Deb informed me that dress was casual. It was decidedly not. Thankfully, I successfully convinced everyone that my look was “A Salute to the Denim-Clad Men Who Built This Town and the Women Who Knit Casual Sweaters for Them.”
What do we learn from this? One: on domestic issues, my wife’s credibility has taken a hit. And two: when it comes to Christmas, you don’t need to go all out. It’s all about attitude. As many people say, less is more. The people who say this usually have less to begin with and are merely trying to make themselves feel better, but there is a truth to it.
With that in mind, and as we ease into the Christmas season like a sexy elf costume that is nowhere near as sexy as you thought it would be (a story for another time, perhaps), I’d like to offer some tips on how to have yourself a Murray Little Christmas. This week: lighting up! The house, that is.
For starters: NO BLOW-UP THINGS! You know who didn’t have blow-up things? The Baby Jesus! Christmas decorations are supposed to symbolize elements of the birth of Christ – evergreens representing eternal life, lights representing the Christmas star, reindeer representing things we like to eat. The only thing a blow-up penguin represents is a spike in your Hydro bill.
Blow-up lawn decorations also open the door to overly broad definitions of “Christmasy.” Down the street, there’s a house that has a blow-up Christmas dinosaur. You know it’s a “Christmas” dinosaur because it’s wearing a Santa hat. (Any archeologist will tell you that you can’t get near a dig without tripping over half a dozen fossilized Santa hats.) Next to the dinosaur is a blow-up Noah’s ark.
This is crazy: Noah’s ark and dinosaurs have nothing to do with Christmas; they’re both in the Old Testament! But as the saying goes, those who don’t know history are doomed to inflate it.
Mostly, though, you don’t want inflatable things on your lawn because they are new. Yes, yes, they’ve been around for more than 10 years, but they’re not old, like tradition old, like my-casual-sweater old. I feel the same way about any new Christmas songs by new singers, and not merely because they have titles like “Get All Up in My Chimney” or “You and Me and Mistletoe is a Harassment Suit Waiting to Happen.”
Which brings me to the second rule of decorating your house the Murray Little Christmas way: DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING! Whatever you’ve been doing for the past 20 years, keep doing that. Otherwise your children will be confused. They’ll see you buying new decorations and think you have money and then they’ll ask you for it. No one wants that.
Your spouse might also be upset with your messing with tradition, and she may take it out on you by vindictively downplaying holiday dress codes.
Stick with what you know. In my case, this is a string of lights outlining the edges of our front porch. We’ve been putting these lights up the same way for nearly 25 years, and we inherited the strings of lights from Deb’s parents, which means we are keeping alive a longstanding Christmas tradition of electrical hazards.
Thankfully, unlike those seizure-causing projectors that turn your house into Studio 54, these older lights are completely inefficient and give off only the softest of glows and mildest of shocks.
Remember: Christmas is a time for the senses, not just lights and music but also smells. A mere whiff of the fake plastic holly we string along the railing of the porch and I’m whisked back to a time when manufacturing standards were merely suggestions, when asbestos was a miracle fibre and plastic contained the goodness of lead.
So what if you breathed in the dust of that artificial wreath that partially disintegrated in your hand after years in the basement exposed to damp and cat urine. This is what you do! Tradition! Why, I’ve been handling these mould-infused, disintegrating substances for years and I’ve turned out just Finland.
Keep tradition alive! You, on the other hand, can be replaced.
Next time: How to make small talk at Christmas parties that doesn’t involve explaining why you’re wearing sneakers.
There’s a glow you get from old-time bubble lights that cannot be created by LEDs.
It’s from absorbing the methylene chloride through your skin, when combined with the tetrachloroethylene used to clean the fungus and cat pee off the artificial holly.
I laughed all the way through this, nonstop. Except the sexy elf costume, if your readers get any input on this, I’d really rather not know. My dog hated those inflatable decorations, especially when they were half-deflated and flapping creepily. We’d spend the whole month of December with him cowering or growling. His disdain was such, he wouldn’t even pee on them,
Dogs have taste, man.
This is the same dog that pretty regularly, so to speak, ate goose poo and old sneaker inner soles. But I guess he had to draw the line somewhere.
Get All Up in My Chimney – I love that! It’s by Lil Purse String. I love her. Er… him.
But seriously, I love your post.
Lil Purse String — nice callback!
Putting up lights on the porch for the last 25 years? You should adopt the tradition of doing that for seven years and then leaving them up for the next 18 summers.
We’re trash (I mean, there’s a tire leaning against the garage posing as a wreath) but not that trash.
i love seeing the sad blowy things all deflated in the morning as i drive around the neighborhood. denim is the new black.
Too flaccid, bad juju.
How is it that the lights last that long? I think the same about our favorite string, and like you, hang it the same way. But it does hang a bit lower, now.
Is that some kind of middle-age innuendo there?
The strings are fine, but of course I have to change the bulbs all the time. They’re harder to find, though, the old incandescent ones.
These are a few of my favourite strings.
Ha, that’s cute. Good morning. It’s 4 pm here.
I need to catch up on your travels/travails. Kafka on the Shore is keeping me busy these evenings.
Take your time, no pressure. Alles klaar.
But maybe read the one tomorrow if you think of it (“Life before fabric softener “).
I’m with you on the foolish inflatable things. Santa’s, reindeer, snowmen, etc., etc., ad nausem, screaming cheap, superficial, and phony; much like the commercialized theme of the holiday these past decades. They are especially depressing observed deflated on a front lawn during fallow times when the blower is shut down to save on the electric bill. In this state, they resemble plastic thrash bags left out by the clueless to blow away in the breeze. I shudder to think what could be next.
I wrote a piece on new trends once. One idea was hiring poor people to serve as a living nativity. I’m sure it’s not far off.