Thursday, December 3, 2015

Deck the Halls — But Only When You're Up to It

With one big holiday behind us and the biggest one of all staring us down in just a few days, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the happ-happ-happiest time of the year.

Lights, bells, ornaments, decorations, sights, scents and a never-ending string of events and happenings help to set the stage for the enjoyment of this most wondrous season.

At the risk of taking the air out of this particular waft of holiday cheer, this ain't happening at my house. Nope.

At Casa de Blackwell we've got our tree up and a wreath on our front door — and nothing else.

And, if I'm being completely honest, if my younger brother hadn't been present to get the ball rolling, the tree would probably still be stashed in a box in our basement.

I wouldn't be remotely self conscious about any of this were it not for the litany of overachievers I call neighbors who already have their homes decorated to the teeth with holiday cheer.

As for us? Well, we're working on it.

Mrs. Blackwell with her new little appendage.
It's been a bit different this year. The arrival of our new little guy has left us forging our way through a trial-and-error minefield on our way to shaping what will be our new normal. And we're doing this during a time of year when normal pretty much goes out the window in a hail of gifts, booze and parties. It's fun but it ain't normal.

So, until we figure out what our new normal looks like, we've replaced holiday cheer with chronic fatigue.

The new boy has to eat (And boy does he eat!) so Mrs. Blackwell is sapped of her energy frequently. This means I'm looking after the old boy more often, which means I'm sapped of my energy more too.

And, for some strange reason, my body decided about three weeks ago that it's through with routine sleeping.

That's right, it doesn't matter what time I go to bed, or how little sleep I got the night before, I wake — at minimum — an hour before my alarm. A few times now I've found myself wide awake at 3 a.m.

I tell people this and they logically assume that the new boy is to blame. Babies cry all the time and sleep deprivation is part of being the parent of an infant.

In fact, Mrs. Blackwell and I are ridiculously fortunate right now. The new boy has bouts where he cries for extended periods but, for whatever reason, they mostly happen during the day.

With the exception of a couple of nightly wake ups for food, our boy sleeps well most nights. He wakes for food, Mrs. Blackwell feeds him and together they nod off back to slumberland. And, in the next room over, I lie awake.

There are few feelings worse than waking about two and a half hours before your alarm goes off and while all you want is to fall back asleep, you already know that won't be happening.

So, we're adjusting to this new reality of ours and one of the early casualties has been getting our Christmas lights up outside the house.

It'll happen soon, I promise. Though I have no idea who I'm promising because it sure isn't my wife.

Mrs. Blackwell is many things. She's sweet. She's warm and she's sentimental — right up until the point where sentiment starts to infringe on pragmatism.

I've known this about her for sometime but it was still jarring to hear what she said a couple days ago.

I mentioned that I just didn't have the energy to go out in the dark and start struggling to put the lights up after work.

It was then that she suggested, "maybe we just don't put any lights up at all this year."

I replied with one word: "Heresy!!!"

I meant it then and I mean it now.

Pictured: an infinitely cooler version of me. 
Sometime this week, those lights will go up and while I'm doing it, I'll probably resemble Clark Griswold — awkward, angry and perpetually on the verge of a world-class freakout.

And if those traits don't materialize, I've got the low-key hostility thing worked to perfection and — like Clark Griswold — I've got one neighbor I'd be happy show it to.

"Need anything Eddie? Can I refill your eggnogg for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

We all have our ways of dealing with the stresses of the holiday season and several will be on display at my house.

So, as I'm angrily whipping my front lawn with the tenth string of lights that possess only 50 working bulbs out of 100, my wife will be sitting on the couch watching "It's a Wonderful Life."

She might be a heretic but she's sleeping better than I am these days and is on her way toward quite an enjoyable holiday season.

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