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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jingle bells, something smells

Sunday marked the beginning of the true Christmas season. That time of year when I head to the garage and pull out a mass of tangled lights and extension cords to decorate the outside of the house.

Each year, as I listen to one or both of the kids tell me they want to "help" (to which the only logical reply is one our own parents used: "If you want to help, go away."), I try to remember who took the lights down the previous winter. Because they're inevitably a tangled mess just chucked on top of the tubs of our indoor Christmas decorations. There's no HGTV-style organization to it. No heavy-duty twist-ties. No lights wrapped around Martha Stewart-esque circular things to keep them from tangling like creeping vines.

Since I can't believe that I could possibly just whip hundreds of feet of lights on top of the tubs, I always assume Mike did it. In a clinically insane way, it makes me feel better. Because I don't want to think I'm the one who makes this mess for myself every year. I NEED to be able to blame Mike.

Also, he's a legitimate suspect. Because I actually SAW him chuck the lights into the garage one March (yes, three months after Christmas) a few years ago. It was raining and he was fed up with looking at them and so he handled it in the calm decisive manner a lot of men do: "When are these lights gonna get taken down? It's practically spring!" Me: "Well, they've been buried under snow for the last two months, and now it's raining. I'm not dealing them now." Mike, "Well, I'm sick of looking at them." I told him to wait until it stopped raining, so he could take care of them calmly, wrap them from elbow to palm and tie them with a giant twist-tie thing. But no.

So, each year, I blame him for the aggravation that is the lights.

Ryan was with me as I started the process. Leaves had to be raked. Some plants had to be cut back. This was all boring to the him. He needed snacks, his bike, more snacks, drinks. Of course, this always speeds up the light process.

Meanwhile, Cara decided to invite her friend A. over. And it went (as it usually does) something like this: A. walks up to the house. Ryan follows her inside. Countdown....5, 4, 3, 2, 1--Cara starts screaming at Ryan to leave them alone. Ryan starts crying shamelessly and comes to tell me Cara a) hit him, b) called him a bad word, or c) took his snack away. Cara comes flying out to scream that she didn't do any of the above and A. is (surprise, surprise) agreeing with her. And I'm standing in a tangle of lights. Eyeing the car. And wondering how far I could get before someone sics family services on me.

Within 15 minutes, Cara and A. announce they're going to A.'s. Ryan starts wailing, "I'll miss Sissy!! Noooooo!"

Cut to Mike at the Jets game: "Hey guys, what's good at the buffet this week?"

The girls left, Ryan and I got the lights up, and I still hadn't resorted to drinking. Boo-yah. Since I can never figure out the light timer, though, I figured I'd have Mike handle that. When I brought it up with him, he was like, "You just have to do this and that (translation: blah, blah, blah)."

That's when I reminded him that "The Setting of The Timer" is his contribution to our Christmas decorating.

Happy %#! holidays.

--Catherine Schetting Salfino

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