Friday, December 5, 2014

My Mom, Clark Griswold and the Impossible Christmas Dream

My memories of Christmas are, largely, perfect.

More often than not, they were white, which is a great place to start.

"Yes, look at how pretty and shiny our tree is son. It's great
 isn't it? Now, don't you dare lay a finger on it."
Our halls were thoroughly decked with Christmas d├ęcor; no nook, nor cranny was free from my mother’s yule-inspired touch.

There were lights and garland lining our banister, a nativity scene on our piano. Doors and windows were framed with greenery and more lights.

We had three sizable Christmas trees, each dripping with ornaments. 

Little bowls filled with Christmas-colored M & Ms were sprinkled around the house. 

Our fridge and freezer were bursting at the seams and treats popped out of the oven as if on command.

A fire frequently roared in our fireplace and the sleigh bells dangling from our front door were forever ringing as guests came and went for the entire month of December.

We had beautiful, ornate nutcrackers — from Austria.

A frequent visitor to our home once made the observation that it looked like “Christmas puked all over the place.” I’m not sure if she meant it as a compliment but, that’s how it was received.
Tree #2 A modest extension of unrealistic
Xmas expectations sits the boy's room.

Behind it all was my mom. December is her month. She owns it with a command few can match.

As we got older, my brothers and I helped with some of the heavy lifting, tasks like bringing boxes up from the basement, getting groceries in from the car and putting up some of the lights outside.

However, the totality of this month-long Christmas eruption was conceived, crafted and nearly completely executed by mom.

Thanks to her labor, my memories of Christmas are idyllic, practically magical and, as I’m learning now, damn near impossible to pull off.

With the boy now 2.5 years old and possibly already forming solid memories, it’s now up to Mrs. Blackwell and I to ensure his Christmases are magical.

Naturally, Mrs. Blackwell is realistic. She knows we’re just starting out. We haven’t acquired years and years of decorations. 

This is just the second time that we’ll be decorating this particular home of ours and just the third Christmas we’re spending together as a family.

All the preferences that lead to habits that become family traditions have not formed yet and, really, you can’t force that issue. It takes years for all of these factors to coalesce and take shape in the form of memorable Christmases. 

But, why listen to that logic when you can risk detention in a state-run mental facility trying to do it all right now? 

I’ll have to keep all of this in mind later this week, when I’m outside on a ladder doing my best impression of Clark Griswold, hanging lights on trees in my front yard so they look just perfect — whatever “perfect” might mean at that moment. 

Like Clark, I’ve got a plan. After that, the similarities should stop, but they won't. No, it's highly likely that somewhere in Madison, Wisconsin in the next few days the police will respond to complaints of an enraged lunatic, screaming and punting Christmas decorations around on his front lawn.

Long before I cross that threshold, Mrs. Blackwell will come outside to check on me. 

And, when I reply that “I’m fine! I’m just fine! Everything is fine!” loud enough for entire neighborhood to hear, she’ll know that she’s — once again— made the right decision to avoid yet another nightmare that I’ve made for myself.

And at that point, I'll need to take a moment, re-evaluate and once again come to terms with everything I've written above. 

It's Christmas and while the stakes are only what you make of them, for fools like me they seem to never be higher. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your tree looks great. Decorations? I can definitely hook you up. Bring a U-Haul when you come and I can whittle down my surplus.