Three Wise Women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, brought practical gifts, cleaned the stable, made a casserole and there would be peace on earth!
– Christmas card
As the Thinking Man’s Thinking Man, I ask a lot of questions.
When do you take down the tree?
When do you take the wreath off the door?
When do you remove the electric candles from the windows facing the street?
When do throw out that dried-out cake someone gave us soon after Thanksgiving?
If it were up to me (which apparently it is not) these things would have all been handled before the calendar said Dec. 26. (Except for the cake, which would have departed the premises soon after its presenter.)
However, someone else in the house finds them cheerful.
Someone else in the house thinks they are pretty.
Someone else in the house yells at me when I begin repackaging a heavenly host of ceramic angels that not only protect the tree, but the mantle, the dining room table, the credenza in the hallway and the first-floor guest restroom (my idea).
That’s why I have to resort to the tactics of attrition.
Ever so gradually over the past week I have removed ornaments and figurines a few at a time.
Ever so quietly I have placed them in plastic storage bins, after wrapping them in sheets from our surplus supply of wrapping paper. (And don’t get me started on why we have so much wrapping paper.)
Then ever so gracefully I have shoved them up the drop-down ladder and into the attic, which contains little beside the two dozen bins of old decorations of Christmas Past.
It is evidence of the holiday divide that gender reveals. Women love Christmas. Men tolerate it.
I have never had another guy give me a large candle with little holly designs on it.
I have never received a pillow with Santa’s face framed with a macrame beard, or snowmen salt and pepper shakers. Or a rug of festive snowflakes. Or reindeer dishtowels.
Or something that looks like a square ceramic bowl that has a ceramic attachment (a bell, maybe?), linked to it by a red ribbon.
“What is this?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she answers, “but isn’t it pretty?”
I have never had a guy give me a box of green nails and a red hammer, though I imagine I could find a use for them.
I have never had a guy give me red leather work gloves with little Santas stitched on the outside.
Or a snow globe that shows a favorite barbecue restaurant.
We just don’t do it.
To us, it is the season of stuff and stuff has to be paid for, or gets in the way and has to be dealt with.
That’s why I keep kidnapping ceramic angels and packing up Santa mugs.
That’s why I hum, “It’s beginning to look a lot like last Christmas …”
Reach Bill Kirby at email@example.com.