Posts Tagged ‘decorating’

Some of you who have been reading for a while may remember that we have some traditions at our home for the Christmas holiday.


There have been a number of stories I’ve shared with you; from posts about light up holiday pigs, to hubby’s Santa wish lists, to the army of nutcrackers that station themselves in our dining room each Christmas.  These stories have taken us on the perfect Christmas tree shopping excursion and to the inner workings of my mind (scary I know!) via my rendition of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.


You may recall last year (like every year according to hubby) when I ruined Christmas.  This of course is hubby’s overly dramatic representation of my desire to add bows to our Christmas tree.  If you remember THIS POST, then you may also recall that I prefer white lights on our Christmas tree.  And after 10 years together, I have won this battle every single year (a small victory given how many battles I seem to lose).  Well, last year I went out after Christmas and stumbled upon an amazing sale on colored LED lights.   And, after much consideration and pondering, and agonizing, I decided to buy enough to decorate the tree with them.   I figured this would be a nice surprise for hubby IF he was a good boy all year (no small feat) and, if you are starting to know hubby, you realize it would take a LOT!  So, fast forward to now.  We have had a whirlwind year.  We found out we were pregnant (notice there’s that word “we” again… when we all know it was ME who was pregnant).  Our little one arrived very early (NOTHING… and I do mean NOTHING was ready for his arrival).   And, since he’s been a part of our lives we’ve had multiple trips back to the hospital, more tears than I can begin to recount and more worries than anyone should have when celebrating the birth of a precious young boy.   But, this post is not meant to be a downer…. It’s just to illustrate that it’s truly been a tough year despite all the joys and excitement of expanding our family.


Soooooo, the holidays are upon us and we take the gazillion tubs of Christmas out of the attic.  We then begin to discuss how the heck we are going to decorate amidst the baby swing, pack n play, bouncy seat, etc.. etc..  It’s a daunting task but we are up to it and we are trying desperately to cling to some normalcy to try to move past the difficulties we’ve had the last 3 months.  As we sort through the outdoor lights, hubby gets a glimmer in his eye… as he realizes there are enough colored  lights to put on our indoor tree.  He begins to plan his attack.


He pulls out a piece of paper.  He counts light strands.  He makes notes.  He recounts.  He write down more info.  He looks outside.  He looks at his piece of paper.  Then with all his homework done, he approaches me with a suggestion.


“You know,”  he says “those 2 trees outside have grown a lot since last year”  dramatic pause.   “So, if my math is right we’ll need 1000 lights on each one rather than the 700 we used last year”.


I’m silent…… quietly waiting to see where he’s going with this…….


“So, I think we’ll really need to use extra white LED lights, you know, the ones we used inside last year, in order to properly decorate outside”


I’m still silent.


“Look at my paper here.   We’ll need 1000 for this tree, 800 for this tree, probably 700 for these bushes.  Here’s how many we have (he shows me another column).  So, you can see that we don’t have enough white lights to do all the things we normally do outside… UNLESS we also use the lights we normally put on the indoor tree.”


And there it is…. His ploy to angle for an indoor Christmas tree with colored lights…. But he hasn’t said it yet.   He’s smart enough to try to let me get there on my own.


Ok, I’ll bite… so I reply “if we used the colored lights on the indoor tree, we’d have enough white lights for outside…. right?”  I can see the glimmer of  hope in his eyes…..   “Ok” I quietly reply.


Now I can see it slowly registering in his mind…. Did she just say yes?  Could this possibly be the year I get my wish of a colored tree?  Did I hear her correctly? I’m scared to open my mouth…. What if I say the wrong thing and she changes her mind???


Without hearing a response from him, I say…. “YES, you heard me correctly.  You can have your colored tree.  Just don’t expect this to be permanent, I’m just feeling mighty generous this year!”


Then, being the smart man he is… he feels the need to plant the seed, to build his case for future years.  He says “What if our little one prefers colored lights too??”   And, since I’m not about to squash all his future dreams I reply “Let’s wait until he can speak so he can let me know himself…. And no trying to sway him to your side!”


So there you have it folks… we are having a Christmas tree with colored lights this year…. Hubby won this round…… HOWEVER, we will STILL have bows on the tree.   Do ya think I’ll still be “ruining Christmas”???


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Before I wrap up posts about Christmas, I have one more story about another of hubby’s “behaviors”, that I’d like to share with you.


As you know, Hubby loves his Christmas tree.  He can shop a full day to find the perfect tree, he can pout for days about the perfect lights AND… he can spend hours getting the ornaments just right in the proper place on the decorated tree (even if he did get fired from decorating this year).


It’s this last part that I wanted to discuss today… the decorating of the tree.  (I meant to get this posted before the holiday so it was more timely but I just couldn’t fit it in…..)


Here’s a little known fact – hubby is a bit quirky, or maybe a little OCD, or perhaps just a bit anal….. ok, this isn’t a little known fact at all.  I have blogged about it more times that I can count but let’s just pretend, in the honor of New Year’s Resolutions, that this is the first time I’m telling you about this.


Hubby likes many things to be just a certain way  and if you use the wrong bowl, gouge the cheese or add unnecessary toppings, you could potentially throw the entire universe out of whack.  Knowing this, there are many elements of holiday decorating that I just don’t touch.  One element, as I mentioned before the holiday, is his Army of Nutcrackers.  The other is a select assortment of Christmas ornaments.  “Hubby’s ornaments”. Ornaments that require:   Special Attention.  Special Placement.  Special Stories.


Yes… I said stories.


The most important ornament is hubby’s “explorer” elf.  This elf is so important that he was actually kidnapped and held for ransom many years ago.  I kid you not.  Ok, bear with me, I’m about to go off on a tangent.

This particular ornament is an ornament from hubby’s childhood.  Like many great parents sending their young’ uns into the world, hubby’s mom packed up a few special ornaments for her son when he ventured off into the world of marriage… this ornament was one of the lucky few to come with us to our new home.   When hubby’s brother realized the horrific act their mother had perpetrated, of gifting this precious ornament to us, he decided to take action.  So, he broke into our house, stole the elf off our first Christmas tree, wrote a ransom note and texted us images of the elf, bound & gagged…. with ridiculous demands for his return.  I only wish I had known I’d be blogging some 8 years later and I would have saved these images… because they are truly priceless.  But alas, I do not have the power to see the future and these pictures & ransom note are long gone.    I have mentioned in the past that my life is filled with laughter and ridiculous behavior when hubby & his brother get together and this is but just a glimpse of why…………


Anywho… we did eventually recover the elf and Christmas magic was returned to our home.


So, back to the my present day elf story.


Each year Hubby likes to create a “scene” within our Christmas tree that reflects a story he’s created for this pioneering elf.  I will do my best to convey this “story” to you.


You see, this elf likes to live in a “Christmas cave” within our tree.  He is gingerly situated inside the branches and is surrounded by the itty-bittiest ornaments whose placement is agonized over by hubby to create the perfect scene each year.  The elf holds a single light to illuminate his cave and he sports a nifty backpack for exploration of his surroundings as he discovers the magic of  miniature holiday items throughout his “cave”.

I’m sure I’ve done a disservice to this story… as hubby does it much better and has a certain twinkle in his eye and he describes his elf and the magical nook in our tree.


After his little cave is created, hubby likes to step back and admire his work and he likes to talk about the miniature little scene.  On more occasions than I can count, I’ve found hubby all by himself, standing in front of the tree with a tiny smile looking through a “window” in the branches to check on his magical elf.  I can only imagine what’s going through his mind as he thinks about this mini elf cave.   I wonder if he’s thinking about how much better the cave would be with surround sound, or perhaps a mini flat screen tv…. or maybe, just maybe,  he’s wondering how we can find mini soda cans to try to bring the “magic” of his own Man Cave into our Christmas tree.  


I suppose the one good thing here is that, while hubby can enjoy this mini elf “cave” just as much as his actual Man Cave…… this one doesn’t require any cleaning.  And that my dear friends is what makes this cave magical for me too.  Well that, and the fact that it’s the ONE TIME a year that hubby actually participates in any sort of home decorating!  Now, if I could only figure out a way to make choosing curtains more “magical”??!!


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Every year hubby lugs down Christmas bin after Christmas bin to decorate for the holiday.. then he surreptitiously dumps them all over the house.


For the next few days I navigate my way around our house like a mine field.  I squeeze through the hallway upstairs, I step over crap at the bottom of the stairs and I slide heavy items out of the way so I can pass.  And then… almost like clockwork, hubby disappears to go to a Giants game.  And miraculously, when he returns, our home looks like Christmas.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I like to decorate for the holiday and I don’t necessarily *need* hubby’s participation in choosing which shelf gets Sniffles the snowman, or where to put the tree in the North Pole Village BUT, hubby does *need* to be involved in some things.


I do not touch hubby’s army of nutcrackers.  If you recall from last year, these soldiers are meticulously assembled on their battle line each holiday season.  And I never, ever, take on this decorating task.  The nutcracker bin may well sit in the dining room for another week after the rest of the house is completely decorated anxiously awaiting hubby’s assembling of the army (which apparently must be done “on it’s own time” and “cannot be rushed”).


The other key element that I never do alone is our tree. 


I’ve spoken about the importance of selecting the right tree in the past.  And, I’ve outlined how fun, merry, exciting, magical,  errr… uhmmm.. thorough our shopping excursions can be to find the perfect tree.  But what I haven’t written about is the details of our tree.


Let’s start with the lights…. which are a never-ending battle at my house (hmmmm… perhaps I should have enlisted my own army!)  I have a preference for white lights on our Christmas tree and hubby has a preference for colored lights.  I always win  (just as any wife should!).  And we have white lights on the tree.   Now, in all actuality, I owned a home before I met hubby and I already had a TON of Christmas stuff, including many boxes of white lights… so, it’s almost as if the choice was already made and we just continued down this path. BUT, it doesn’t stop hubby from wishing, whining, pouting each year as he strings on the white lights.  He says things like:

“Know what would make this tree look even better?”……………..”colored lights”

“Know what would make my Christmas truly magical?” …………….”colored lights”

“Know what makes fantastic Christmas trees look less fantastic?” ……………”white lights”

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.


Anyhow, a very long, and somewhat unrelated story but….. we hit the lottery this year and decided to buy new LED lights to decorate the outside of our house. — OK – before you get all excited for us — we didn’t actually win the lottery, but you really need to, in order to afford LED lights…. Holy Crap… what are they made of GOLD??!!  ($30 friggin dollars for a dang string of lights – WTH?!)  Ok, I’m getting way off topic here.  Back to my tree.


The long story resulted in us “stealing” some of our “inside” lights for outside and left us with white LED lights to put on our Christmas tree.  (And now you can see the tree from outerspace and you need to wear sunglasses in our house…. but hey, we’re saving energy!!).  And hubby, like every year (while he was fascinated by the bright lights – as every man would be…..) still pouted about not having colored lights on his tree.    


And then, to make matters worse…… come the bows.


I always finish our tree with small burgundy bows.   Hubby hates bows on trees.   I have no idea if perhaps he was attacked by a roll of fabric when he was younger, or maybe his mom gave everyone in the family gifts with bows while hubby got  coal for Christmas, but he is horribly prejudiced against pretty bows.  This is another tree decorating battle that I generally win (just as any wife should).  And hubby, once again, always pouts.

“Know what would make this tree look even better?” ………”colored lights and NO bows”

“Know what would make my Christmas truly magical?” ……….”colored lights and NO bows”

“Know what makes fantastic Christmas trees look less fantastic…… “white lights and ugly bows”

I have no idea why hubby could give a crap about every-single other decorating conversation I force him to have the other 364 days of the year.  And then all of a sudden he’s an authority on the “perfectly” decorated Christmas tree.


And that my dear friends….. is how I ruin Christmas, each and every year, for my dear hubby.


(now, if you can keep it a secret……  next year, I may just let hubby have free reign over the tree but it’s taken me years to mentally prepare myself for what sort of tree we might wind up with!)


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I mentioned not long ago, that hubby thinks an entire brigade of fairies lives in our house. These fairies buy toothpaste, change toilet paper and do laundry.  But at Christmastime, the fairy brigade brings in reinforcements in the form of an entirely new army…. The Nutcracker Brigade. 


Ok, I admit it….. I am an over-decorator.  Christmas can be found EVERYWHERE in our home. In the kitchen, on many windows, in the family room, the living room, the dining room, the bathrooms.  And, it might be important to note, that I do the decorating.  And realistically this probably doesn’t surprise you.  We know hubby doesn’t have an eye for decorating and he surely doesn’t have the oomph to motivate himself to clear off surfaces of day-to-day decorations.  It’s also highly unlikely that he’d take the initiative to sort through something like 10 bins of Christmas crap.  So, his role winds up being; lugging all the bins down from the attic, hanging all the high Christmas lights outside and readying the army for their holiday battle.


So, after I’ve put away tchotchkes, candles & family photos to make room for the Christmas explosion, I then sort through my 9 (ish) bins of Christmas joy.  But, there’s always one lonely bin that sits untouched in the dining room, anxiously awaiting hubby’s attention. 


It would be unheard of for me to display hubby’s prized nutcracker collection.  You see, it’s been a tradition in hubby’s family for his mom to buy him a new nutcracker every-single-Christmas.  And, given that hubby is now 35… that’s a damn lot of nutcrackers.  We’ve actually been challenged over the years, to find a suitable surface that can accommodate this ever-growing army.


The Entire Christmas Army


Hubby does indeed love his collection.  And, I know better than to try to position the army on the table (which they’re close to outgrowing) because I obviously have no idea what formation the army will be taking this year…. That’s all part of the magic…….


So, while hubby can sit around and watch me decorate the rest of the house for hours, he bides his time for the correct, exact, moment to deploy his soldiers.  And then, he meticulously removes them from their bin, one-by-one, and situates each one into the proper formation for the year. 


Sometimes they are all lined up like soldiers marching forward in the Civil War.

Frontline Soldiers Leading The Attack

 Sometimes they stand together in small groups like a football team taking the proper starting positions on the field.

Special Formation Groupings


Then, there’s a General (hubby’s favorite soldier) who clearly leads the charge and is purposefully positioned in the center of his brigade.  All other soldiers are fastidiously placed in their corresponding roles.  And, as hubby says, he never puts the soldiers he likes in the flanking positions (these spots are obviously for the expendable soldiers).  Yes, he truly has given this thought.

The General

The formation is indeed different each year. I guess it depends on who fought well in the previous year’s battle.  And, should a new soldier enlist who hubby particularly fancies, you just never know what might happen to the current General.  It’s quite possible he’d be demoted the following year.  I think the current General has had his post for about 8-9 years now but you never know when some young blood might come into the mix and earn himself a gold star.  Yes, this may sound crazy to you… but I suppose it’s hubby’s way of irritating me,  acting like a child, walking down memory lane.  And, I do also suppose that if it puts a holiday smile on his face it’s a small price to pay..


Now, if only these soldiers would indeed perform some tasks around the house (similar to their sister brigade of fairies) maybe, just maybe, I’d have a holiday smile on my face too…..


A gal can dream…. Can’t she???


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