Holiday Decoration

By on 1 December, 2017 in Holidays, Lynne Schneider with 0 Comments

Photo by Tracy Ducasse

Thanksgiving kicks off an annual mad riot of festivities. Folks deck the halls for weeks. They plan and prep and freeze-for-later. They festoon with seasonal lights and inflate balloon critters in the yard. They welcome the holidays and gladden hearts. But Grinch that I am, I refuse to compete in the Holiday Olympics. And (of course) I have five reasons for my humbuggery:

  1. We just moved in. This claim works until the boxes are all unpacked, a process that could take decades, or never happen at all. As long as packing tape still clings to the flaps of at least one box, we just moved in.
  2. If I do all the prep, what will the rest of the family have to do? I learned this over Thanksgiving. The gang drove and flew hundreds of miles (thousands!) to gather around the cooking. I’m not sure eating was any part of the real goal. The swarm all wanted to slice and dice and sauté and roast and, of course, bake and bake and bake. A short and incomplete list of recent baked attractions:
  • Chocolate Babka: a rich cakelike yeast bread with veins of dark chocolate spiraled through and through. The crust, the chocolate, the buttery bread, every bite is a glorious little adventure into food coma.
  • Acorn Squash Pie: lighter than sweet potato or pumpkin, with a little more fiber, it savors of its more famous siblings but without the cream-custard guilt.
  • Bunny and Kitty Challah rolls: you make a posse of dinner rolls, then snip ears with kitchen shears and poke eyes with a chopstick and voila, a single-serving bit of bread way too cute to eat.
  • Genoese roll with filled with hand-whipped cream and homemade raspberry jam: a light spring cake (hence, guilt-free – either compare the cake to other heavy seasonal desserts and feel good about yourself, or pretend the calories won’t hit you until April – either way, delicious!)
  • Ice Cream: simply put, there is nothing like homemade vanilla ice cream to complement all post-prandial delights. Even corn chips dipped in it have never felt as happy or fulfilled.

I could get all matriarchal about the holidays, but how could I really deprive the family of all the joy the kitchen can offer? So I only grill out back on the deck and mow the lawn and set ant traps. My chores offer no glory, but I can’t complain about the “pay” (next up: red velvet cheesecake).

  1. If I put up decorations, I will have to take them down. In the grocery check-out line, I thumb through magazines to see what quaint and clever décor-boosts they suggest for the holidays. Swaths of silver and gold gauze garland, twinkly glass globes, rustic homemade wreaths, candles in every dish, bowl, jar, and sconce, and a brocade table-runner. I begin to feel the flicker of Yule cheer like a numb arm that now wakes in a wave of pins and needles. In a flash I see myself folding the gauze and brocade back into boxes. I look up for help lugging the boxes back to the attic. Everyone has slipped out back to slap the holiday badminton birdie. I peer out. I should call them all back in to help…but the game looks so fun. We never got to play badminton at New Year’s time up in the Catskills. I mean, a frozen net, lumbering in snow boots and swinging a little racket bundled up in a parka – it is just not as fun as it sounds. Mostly, though, the white birdie would vanish in the snow and that would pronto end the frolics. I hunt up my racket and slip out back. If I decorated, the ornaments would hang and gather dust until July. The dust is one reason why I will not decorate.
  2. Which holiday would I honor in my decorations? My family includes some of everything, religion-wise. The only thing that is really fair is not to decorate at all. My total love and acceptance of all my kith and kin clearly forbids me to decorate. I could not risk hurting a single feeling amongst us with an inconsiderate festoon of something or a garlanded, lit-up something else.
  3. I won’t know where to stop. We’ve all seen those houses that look like share holders in the electric company. They rival Las Vegas for glitz and glitter. They flash and blink with relentless whimsy, fierce holiday spirit and aggressive good cheer. I might fall into that addiction. A single wreath might be the “gateway” decoration that would lead me into hungering for more and more baubles. I might bankrupt myself on table-top Santa’s villages, then I would need more table tops for more tiny toy workshops. Then I would need a veritable Vienna Boy’s choir hammered out of sheet metal, their painted mouths forever open Mr. Bill’s O. I would not be able to sleep until I deployed in the yard a small army of fifteen-foot Santa-hatted wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tubemen ($129 retail on Amazon Prime, no blower included).

In the end, it is the sheet metal choir and the army of frantic tubemen that stop me. I can picture them all so clearly, the mute metal mouths and the nylon flailing arms all wordlessly telling me, “Noooooo!”

But for those who do make the world festive this time of year, thank you and I wish everyone a happy (and beautiful) hol​iday season!

Lynne Schneider earned a doctorate in the frozen north, after which a miracle occurred: Alabama State University offered her a faculty position and she happily relocated to Montgomery where she teaches literature and writing, and where lovely people play tennis all year long!

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