One week until Christmas; my fifth favorite holiday of the year. This will be my annual Bah-Humbug post so if you are feeling warm and fuzzy with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire while Burl Ives sings something in the background, maybe you want to set a reminder on your iPhone and just read this tomorrow after the cold sting of Monday has punched you in the face. Not that I want it to, that’s just how Monday rolls.
We have just completed Christmas shopping within a 48 hour window. I am quite certain that we have overspent and under-delivered on the holiday. They are good gifts. They are evenly distributed and a fair balance of fluffy nothingness mixed with useful clothes. I just feel like I am under-delivering when none of the children really defined what they wanted. In fact, they said a few times that they didn’t want anything. While this is indeed a selfless attitude and very apropos for a Jesus-based celebration, it is not helpful for the corporate American rewards based Christmas. I need a feverish obsession for some obscure toy that I have to work tirelessly to find. I need something I can check off my list and say to myself, “I may not be the best dad but, by God, I found a tickle me Elmo.” Then on Christmas morning I would bask in the joy of my giggling child as she tickled that fuzzy red fucker within an inch of his cotton-stuffed life. These are the Christmas memories I need to justify the crowds and the bank account balance. Not a gamble based on the fact that they like ponies so I guess I’ll buy another horse themed toothbrush set.
My Grandmother made the mistake of letting a few family members know that she thought frogs were cute. As she grew older and enjoyed a more settled existence she became harder to shop for at Christmas time. No problem right? Grandma likes frogs… we’ll get her some frog stuff. She has five children who have children who have children. Not everyone got to spend quality time with Grandma and know her deeper interests but you can bet your ass everyone knows that she likes frogs. Over time she has amassed a healthy collection of amphibians. I’m not sure how many exactly but the last person to see a wave of frogs like that would later free the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing. I’m just as guilty as the next relative for going to the frog default but my point in all this rambling is that we have this cultural requirement to show a certain level of appreciation through gifting and when you are hard to shop for you better be all-in when you default to a personal theme. Else, frogs. (I encourage you to share any themes that you have been saddled with in the comments section. Talking it out is good therapy.)
The other holiday point I struggle with year-to-year is the constant cycle of disposability. The kids don’t care about new toys or types of toys just that they get to open presents. I have witnessed them make dolls out of bits of paper and place the bits of paper on top of actual dolls whom they were using as furniture. (Did I use whom right? It sounds stupid.) We fight the endless battle of shoveling toys out of the living room and wading through piles of dirty clothes. Usually we beat the stuff back just far enough to have room for opening Christmas presents and BOOM more stuff.
Our stuff is out of control. We have a storage unit with things we want to give away. What in the actual hell are we doing? Paying to keep things that we want to donate but haven’t yet. We have a box in the garage at this very moment labeled CHRISTMAS STUFF WE DON’T USE, DON’T THROW AWAY! On what planet is that rational? We need an intervention but who has the time?
To add insult to injury, our dryer broke this week. I fancy myself a logical problem solver who can work through trouble shooting a dryer. After all, a dryer is a tumbler with a blow dryer attached. How complicated can it be?
(Insert Jeopardy theme song.)
Three hours later. Instead of surgery, I have performed an autopsy. The problem was with the smallest piece buried behind ALL of the other pieces. It is thirty dollars and will take a week to ship. Our house of six cannot dry clothes for a week. The week prior to Christmas. Fantastic. In a moment of joy and overflowing with something that can only be described as the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, I stacked the dismantled carcass of our dryer around our Christmas tree and laughed until even the dog was uncomfortable.
We paid to have our dryer duct cleaned last year and the technicians removed a small dog worth of lint. That same amount of lint filled the interior of our dryer and looks like it caught on fire a couple of times. Clean your dryer folks. Real talk.
Also, in a totally unrelated subject. I saw a really interesting storm water drainage structure. It is a progressive design that takes into account a distant future where global warming creates a 435’ rise in sea-level. Strong work Nostradamus. Shout-out to the City for stringent technical review as well. Nice job all around.
If you are experiencing Pre-Merryment Syndrome (PMS) this post is for you. You’re welcome. I’ll be better. I just needed a little vent.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.