Deck the Halls With Growls and Stalling


I’ve tried to instill some old-fashioned values in this house, I really have. At the risk of appearing Republican, I’ve led Christmas-cookie-baking afternoons, made dozens of gingerbread houses, snuck Bing Crosby onto the iTunes, and basically jumped headfirst into the pile of corn.

My kids stood by in their black t-shirts and backward baseball caps and tried not to pull an eyelid muscle from excessive rolling.

Since 1990, when my oldest son was 4-years-old, we’ve been making an ornament every year. The first year we cut wax paper into star shapes and covered them with enough glue and glitter to bring down a 6-foot Scotch pine. Progressively we evolved to paints, stencils, strips of fabric, Styrofoam balls and other complicated items from the non-sale shelves of Michaels. We were getting dangerously close to Martha Stewart chic.

But last year I couldn’t drum up any excitement for my mini jingle bell wreaths, despite the fact that I put a red and green tablecloth on the craft zone and blasted Mannheim Steamroller through the house.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, my oldest son heard some desperation in my voice and reluctantly said, “Oh, fine, I’ll make one.”  But it was a pity craft if I ever saw one. He refused to hum along with me, kept looking over at the TV, and instead of a bow on his jingle bell wreath he wanted to use a garbage twist tie.

Last weekend our across-the-street neighbor put up her tree. I can see it through our front windows, so every time I pass by the front rooms in our house I’m reminded that I have to get on the stick and get the tree up, the decorations out, and start thinking about what ornament we’re going to buy supplies for and not make.

Maybe it’s just as well that my kids are getting too old to spend quality time with their mother. Because, truth be told, I’m starting to run out of ideas. We’ve already spray painted pine cones in the garage, poked fabric pieces into a round thing, made permanent cookies out of a cement-like substance, and rolled paint around the inside of a clear ball. That last one we did in 1997 and the paint is still not dry.

I’d like to try to kill two birds with one stone and maybe use up some of the crap I have in my house. So if you hear of any ornament ideas using wine corks, tiny Irish flags, golf tees and expired coupons, let me know.