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Next Week's Column: Decoration Day


Christmas decorating this year went … well. I can’t account for it.

I mean, people expect stories. They want to know about burning extension cords, falling trees, entire rooms full of brand new lights that won’t light. This is December – I can’t be expected to come up with something funny without help.

But no, all went well, if not exceptionally so. My daughter even gave me a little ceramic Christmas firehouse, which I suppose is meant to guard over the rest of the decorations. It’s so cute – a word that shouldn’t be used to describe firehouses. Already the little ceramic fire truck has responded to a smoke investigation in the hamster cage … I don’t know what caused it, but I smell a rat.

We even got the outside stuff up during weather so nice and warm that I’m still convinced I dreamed the whole thing. A week later, when it turned December, the weather was more like, well, Indiana weather.

We got our decorations up before the neighbors did, which means we get to admire the big inflatable Santa for awhile before they put up their snow globe, which is much cooler than Santa and not nearly as scary.

Actually, my daughters wanted to put up a lot more decorations than what I allowed. Neither of them has to pay the electric bill. The last time I allowed them to string lights up on the porch railing, bushes and gutter, that little spinning thing on my electric meter was found embedded in the side of a house two blocks away. I paid so much for lighting last year that this year the electric company sent me a Thanksgiving turkey with a note, thanking me for keeping them in the black.

So instead, we put up Santa – apparently everyone likes him except my youngest, who maintains Santa is a pervert. He knows when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake; he knows when you’ve been bad or good … obviously, Santa is a window peeper. This is her theory.

But this isn’t the real Santa, although he does have rather beady little eyes. So we pulled the jolly old elf out of his box, anchored him in, turned him on (um, turned his power on), and watched as he slowly, menacingly, rose to his seven foot red and white glory. I thought elves were short?

I looked at my oldest and said, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

“He’s not facing forward,” she immediately replied.

Yep, we’re fast. He was, in fact, waving and staring at the neighbor’s house, pretty much right at their front porch. I can imagine how I’d feel if I walked out my front door, glanced to my right, and saw a giant hairy guy waving madly at me. At the very least, I’d throw a load of buckshot that way. At the very most, I’d go down, clutching my chest.

So we unplugged Santa, unanchored him, but left him turned on – that is, with wind blowing up his skirt – while giving the old guy a quarter turn to the right. Yes, we were taking a chance that he’d go floating off, but the extension cord is only so long.

So now Santa is waving at the bank, as if saying “Hi, bank! My owner will be over to apply for a paying-the-electric-bill loan, soon! It’s fun to hear him sob when he gets his mail!”

No wonder he’s so cheerful. It made me mad, so I didn’t clean him off when he got covered
with mud while deflated the next day, and it froze to him before I realized it. Besides, according to my youngest, he was already dirty anyway.

Meanwhile, my oldest put up this really neat white fence, wound with lights, on either side of my front walkway. We plugged it in and were surprised to discover it not only worked, but looked great. That made me suspicious.

“Say, where did you get that fence?”

She shrugged. “Oh, we used it for decoration at my wedding.” Apparently she wasn’t planning to save it for her next wedding.

I nodded. Then I got to thinking. “Um … so this fence … it’s indoor/outdoor, right?”

She gave me a blank stare.

“I mean,” I continued, with an edge of hysteria in my voice, “Did you check the instructions to make sure it could be used outside?”

“Instructions?” she repeated.

Three days later, it rained. Hard. I still don’t know if the fence is supposed to be out there, stuck into the mud, but there has thus far been no melting, sparking, or turning of the nearby plastic Santa into a towering inferno. It’s almost … dull.

For which I’m very thankful.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
Hee, living in an apartment we just decorate indoors and aside from the cat deciding that he wants to play in the tree every chance he gets it hasn't been as exciting as your decorating experience ;)
Dec. 8th, 2006 10:25 am (UTC)
I've done the cat-tree thing before, too. It's fun, until the tree falls over!
Dec. 7th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC)
I love your santa - I don't think I'd risk having one around here - someone would probably pinch it! LOL! Cute fence too.
Dec. 8th, 2006 10:11 am (UTC)
People would have to go up a little hill and into the yard in order to reach him, so that might be protecting Santa a bit -- but there are lots of inflatable decorations around the area, now, and I haven't heard of one being pinched to death yet.
Dec. 7th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
LOL - I was thinking how nice the lights looked alongside the path - hope they continue to withstand any inclement weather.

I bought a small tree in a pot today which will stand on the front porch with some bright lights on (suitable for use outdoors - I checked), but that's as far as our decorating's got at the moment. We'll tackle it this weekend, and hopefully I won't spend most of next week seeking replacement bulbs for strings of lights.

Oh, and the Fire Station is really cute.
Dec. 8th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)
the Fire Station is my favorite.
So far so good with the fence -- we got a few inches of snow and some drifting yesterday, and I've seen no smoke.

The truth is, our inside decorating is only half done. We didn't get time to finish on Thanksgiving weekend, and haven't had a chance to finish since. Better hurry, or I'll be decorating for New Year's!
Dec. 7th, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC)
I rather like your Santa - and the lights along the path are really neat, and if they survive this year you can be fairly sure that they are suitable for outdoor use.....
Dec. 8th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
We had a pretty good snow yesterday and they're both still there and still lit, so I've got high hopes!

As for Santa, he's become in just two short years something of a town icon, so if I didn't put him up I'd have to answer a lot of questions ...
Dec. 8th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
It’s almost … dull.

You may think that your Christmas decoration experience is dull, but the way you tell it... well, it's fun to read about. :)

Our decorations were put up a month ago (some of our neighbors put theirs up a month earlier than that), but until now my mother is still adding and changing a few things. Just this morning she strung up lights in the shape of a Christmas tree on our front door. :P
Dec. 9th, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)
I'm afraid fall just isn't the right time of year to get me interested in decorating, especially decorating outside. Usually it only gets done because the kids do it, although I'm the one hauling all the boxes back and forth -- and when they get started, of course, I'm ashamed *not* to help.

I don't mind Christmas decorations being put up before the weather turns bad, but I'm violently opposed to them being turned on before Thanksgiving. A month of lights -- one-twelth of the year -- is enough! Any more just cheapens it, in my mind.
Dec. 8th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
No snow! It looks like you live in Dallas. *g*

Have you read nwhepcat's tales of the giant wanking polar bear at a local fast-food place? May stalker Santa should get together with him.

The lit-up firehouse really is cute.
Dec. 8th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Of course I meant to say "maybe stalker Santa...." Stupid lj with it's no edits for comments!
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
Taken either way, it would still get you a laugh!
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC)
I have *two* lit-up firehouses, now! Charis got one for me just today.

As for the lack of snow, we got a snowstorm just two days after I took the picture, so that takes care of that! It looks much for Christmasy now, although I still prefer green.

I looked up the polar bear story -- hilarious! Then I got an image of ... ah, never mind.
Dec. 8th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Good heavens , thar's a big Santa:)

We don't decorate till Christmas Eve and then only inside the house
( we're way off the road and the only audience would be the cows ) so I have tons of time yet
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
Not until Christmas Eve? But ... when do you get time to *enjoy* it?
Dec. 9th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC)
After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve ( when we turn the tree lights on) till Twelfth Night ( Jan 6th) when the tree comes down.

Mostly I use fresh holly and Ivy and Mistletoe and Pine and oranges and polished apples around the house so it's all pretty and fresh and spicy for Christmas morning . And gold wrapped chocolate coins and lots of candles ( very carefully in proper holders away from fabrics :) )

I love it!!

Dec. 10th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
chocolate coins -- yum!

in theory we take our decorations down right after New Year's. In actual practice, I get to it ... eventually. (Citrus smell = good!)
Dec. 9th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
Your firestation is adorable, your Santa scary and your decorations tasteful in comparison to what I saw while wandering home at midnight last night. I think my neighours have all seen Christmas Vacation way too many times and aspire to Chevy Chase's level of light adornments.
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
Chevy Chase
Yes, we have some of those around here, too. My oldest daughter would be one of them, if she had enough money to buy the decorations and pay my electric bill.
Dec. 10th, 2006 01:22 am (UTC)
Re: Chevy Chase
I guess that now she'll be amassing her own growing collection of xmas lighting and running up her own bills. Maybe you could wait a few years then start bringing her more lights to add to her display in revenge for her trying it on you when she lived at home.
Dec. 10th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
tripping the light fantastic
She's living in an upstairs apartment right now, so outside decorating is pretty much out of the question. But if she ever gets a house of her own, heaven help them!
Dec. 12th, 2006 09:29 am (UTC)
I used to be part of a Fiero Owners Association here in Illinois.

Several of the board members lived on a cul-de-sac and would decorate their homes similar to Clark W. Griswold did. One of them boasted about his 35,000 WATTS of lights!

One of them had their bills paid by someone else, however...or at least at the time they did. A local hobby shop rented out their 3-car garage during the holiday season to set up an elaborate Christmas train and paid the electric bill as well as rent and a "vehicular displacement" cost for them having to park their cars elsewhere (one of the other Fiero owners housed his Fiero during Christmas season). The others set up a communal donation box and usually made enough money to offset the additional cost to their electric bills during the holiday season.
Dec. 13th, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
visible from space
That's incredible ... it's almost an unfair advantage, in the decoration competition business. Me, I've never been all that competitive; when the neighbors set up their snow globe I was the first one to say how much better it was than my Santa. As for 35,000 watts, if I had the money for that I'd put it into cranking up the heat *inside* my house!
Dec. 12th, 2006 09:24 am (UTC)
balior (the b/f) and I were out in your neck of the woods this past weekend visiting my birth-father and stepmother (they wanted to meet balior and I hadn't visited in nearly a year) but we didn't do much running around other than doing a brief "tourist" thing in town so he could photograph the Whitley County courthouse and the OUTSIDE of the old jail (no good way into the building either; I'll have to make arrangements to tour it).

If we'd have had more time than just a day and a half, I'd have let you know we were coming out there so we'd have had a chance to grab a bite at someplace like Dog N Suds on Rte 9.

Next time, I'll bring him up to Albion to see that part of "small town America" for him to play "tourist" again. Do the businesses in Albion have really short weekend hours like the ones in Columbia City suddenly do? Any good antique or resale shops up there, or would I have to haul all the way out to Kendallville for anything good?

The closest we got to your part of town was visiting Thorn Cemetery and Ormas Baptist Church (my great-great-great grandfather's buried at Thorn as well as my great-great grandfather).
Dec. 13th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
That would have been nice ... I haven't eaten at a Dog N Suds in years!

Most of the places in Albion do have relatively short weekend hours, except for the obvious ones like the grocery store and fast food places; the Corner Stop convenience store is our only 24 hour a day operation. The pharmacy used to be open all day Saturday, but it just closed its doors forever *sob*. There's an antique shop just east of the stoplight -- or was, last time I glanced that way -- but I don't know their hours, and other than that the ceramic shop is the only place even remotely touristy that I can begin to think of. This might help:

Dec. 13th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
I definitely think balior and I will be back there more often since he had a fabulous and much-needed relaxing weekend out in the countryside.

I'll definitely keep you posted!
Dec. 13th, 2006 08:36 am (UTC)
A relaxing weekend ... *ponders* What's that like?
Dec. 13th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
Zen....sheer zen.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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