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Confessions of a holiday slacker

It seems the Christmas season has snuck up and found me ill-prepared once again. I blame this predicament on my disdain for retailers putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween and trying to rush me into the season. I blame political correctness run amok in a country where people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend anyone and then look at me when I reply “Merry Christmas” to them as if I’ve just made a disparaging remark about their mother. (Incidentally, if someone were to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa, I would not be offended in the least–but that’s another rant for another day.) But first and foremost, I blame my own well-honed proclivity for procrastination and devastating laziness.

I have varying levels of holiday decorating. Level One decorating consists of outside lights adorning the house, wreaths on not only the front door but also wreaths on each window facing the street, a small wooden nativity scene, a large snowman surrounded by three ice skating penguins with blue lights encircling the entire scene to mimic a frozen pond, and a wooden Santa to greet visitors at the front door. On the inside of the house, there’s the fully decorated tree and mantle, a Christmas village spanning six shelves of the built-ins in the family room, a fancy nativity scene atop the piano, personalized miniature trees in each child’s room as well as a snowman themed tree in the kitchen. There are also wreaths on each of the french doors leading into the office off the family room and Christmas plates replacing the plates normally displayed in the dining room. Dispersed throughout the house are Christmas themed candles and various trinkets.

It should be noted that Level One Christmas decorating has not been achieved since I let my prescription for Adderall lapse over four years ago.

Level Two decorating consists of MOST of the above, less the kids’ trees, the snowman tree, the Christmas village and the wreaths on the office doors. For me, this is still a fairly daunting process.

Neither level was achieved this year. I’m at Level Three. Although if one were to rank by output of effort and number of decorations, it would be more accurate to describe it as Level 7, 8 or 27.

Oh, I’ve got the essentials done.

The tree is up and decorated…

Even though there are just as many left off the tree this year than there are on the tree.

The mantle is decorated.

The centerpiece, the reason for the season is prominently displayed. Not only the fancy set on the piano,

but also the small wooden nativity set in the front yard.

And in a display worthy of a Crap at my Parent’s House honorable mention is this bathroom display:

Visitors will be greeted by a friendly Santa Claus made by my neighbors a few years ago,

And I will be greeted each morning with incessant barking from Buddy Love the Dog,

who is convinced that there is an intruder on the other side of the sidelight window who just won’t leave no matter how loudly and often he’s barked at.

Do I feel a guilty about my lack of enthusiasm for decorating this year? A little, but not too much. For me, it’s the process of decorating as much as the final results that I enjoy. This year, there’s been lots of out of town business trips and even more after school activities that take all of us away from home, so there’s not been much time for putting up the Christmas decorations.

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

The tree is up and even has a few presents under it.

So rather than stress about all that could have been done that wasn’t, I’m simply going to call what we’ve done enough and enjoy what’s left of the Christmas holiday season.

Just as soon as I finish my Christmas shopping…

How’s your season going so far?

The sum of its parts

I have a friend who has a beautiful themed tree each year. Each year a new theme. And it’s not one of those tabletop numbers either.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer themed tree. (And no, the irony of the deer heads next to the Rudolph tree is not lost on me.)

It’s a massive tree accommodated by a two story family room. Last year’s theme was Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer, complete with the entire cast of characters.

The year before that I think it was Raggedy Ann and Andy. The pictures don’t do the tree justice. The symmetry and attention to detail is amazing. It’s enough to put most other themed trees to shame and to make me feel like a true decorating slacker. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done themed trees before. I had a snowman tree for a few years, and our current tree started out with a theme: Rustic/Woodsy. But over the years it’s gone from rustic to rustic, et. al. It still has its rustic elements. The star on top? I would consider that rustic.

Ditto for some of the other ornaments.

But a strictly themed tree (and I typically only put up one tree, because I’m lazy like that) doesn’t allow for all the ornaments that reflect our interests.

Or our preferred footwear.

Ornaments from family members close to our hearts but not close in proximity.

We have several ornaments from my brother & his family in Hawaii, this is just the tackiest one.

Ornaments from close friends tried and true.

Ornaments made with once tiny hands which aren’t so tiny anymore.

Then there are those ornaments which mark milestones in the life of our family.

All of which make a hodgepodge of memories we get to unpack physically and metaphorically each Christmas season. A tree with no real distinct direction, but one which makes me smile.

Oh, wait…

There are two more ornaments I’ve yet to show you. Every Christmas tree should have some ornaments which represent the true reason for the season.

And personally, I think every tree should have at least one panda bear

Because panda bears make me smile…

(Thanks to my friends Jeff and Tamara for the Panda video.)

Do you have a treasured ornament that only you would treasure?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…already

Oh, I know, I know…it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I’m already doing a Christmas post.

Editor’s note: For those reading this outside the USA, Thanksgiving is an American holiday where we celebrate white guys in funny hats and knickers bringing disease and pestilence to the New World and stealing the land from the Native Americans. Some of us were raised to believe that this holiday was about being grateful to God for our blessings, but we stand corrected.

I also realize that there are some of you who will read this from atop your high horse because you’re already finished with your Christmas shopping and will spend Black Friday sipping eggnog and stringing lights from your eaves. You people are annoying…

But for the rest of you slackers, I thought I’d give you a heads up in what seems to be the hottest trend in holiday decor at places that buy stuff the major retailers couldn’t sell. It seems that since many retailers start putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween, someone got the crazy idea to combine the two holidays:

Scary Christmas!

For today’s post, I will focus on decorations (even though I got some great gift ideas before I was given the stink eye by the store manager and thought it best to leave the store with my camera phone in hand.)

Question: What do you get when you cross Jolly Old St. Nick and the Bride of Chuckie?

Answer: This

That poor deer is a goner for sure!

But wait…there’s more! Maniacal Mice!

and Sluggo the Snowman (“You talking to me?”)

But it’s not ALL evil, some of it is just…well…

What is this? Seriously…I know it’s supposed to be a Christmas tree, but who makes something like this, stands back and says, “This is really good. Let’s make a million of them.”? #FAIL

On a brighter note, I did find a lovely “Holiday tree skirt”. But just between you and me, I’m going to need to let it out in the waist a bit. Must be all the Halloween candy…

Decorating (check!) Next: finish shopping and wrap everything (sigh)

I had a fairly productive weekend. In my last Christmas update, I mentioned that I had approximately one (1) ornament on my tree. As luck would have it, the Hogan girls came over Friday night so that Jeff and Tam could celebrate their anniversary. So, as any good friend would do while watching another friend’s children, I put them to work. Three girls can make fairly quick work out of decorating a Christmas tree, and Rachel was pretty pumped that I was letting her climb up on a ladder for the high spots. To Cameron’s credit, he resisted the overwhelming temptation to spray them with a constant barrage of nerf bullets while they were working. While they were decorating the tree, I was outside wrestling with the assorted yard art and lights extravaganza. Nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit like stringing lights wearing shorts and flip flops while swatting mosquitoes! Saturday I decorated the mantle and set out my nativity set on the piano. I’ve got boxes and boxes of decorations that are still in the attic (including an awesome Christmas village), but at this point, I decided they could just stay up there until next year. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the fruits of my labor:

That’s pretty much it for the inside of the house. Now for the outside:

We usually put lights on the house. But my DH has been super busy with work, so we decided to skip it this year. Did you notice Joseph giving the “thumbs up” sign? I never could find his shepherd’s cane. And since I had my camera out, I thought you might like to see a couple other houses in the neighborhood. This next picture is of my friends Jay and DeeAnn’s house. Or, as it is commonly referred to at Christmas time, “Whoville”. You can’t even see everything in these pictures. They made everything you see, and I’m pretty sure the electric company sends them a fruitcake each year.

This next yard I like for a couple of reasons. First, I love me some old school plastic light up nativity sets, plus I think it’s pretty cool that Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman were present at the birth of Sweet Baby Jesus.

This next one is for Helen. I thought it was incredibly sweet and I thought she would too.

Well, gotta go wrap some presents!

P. S. – I missed church this morning. Right before we got started, my dog Buddy had what we think was a seizure. He started to shake, his little legs went limp and his jaws were clenched. I grabbed him, got in my car and drove as fast as was reasonable possible to the nearest emergency animal clinic. Since my C3 family was already at my house when this happened, I knew that they would be praying for me. What really struck me as I was waiting for them to run tests on Buddy was how I wished that I could have left word for you, my dear friends, to be praying for me, too. Thanks for sharing your lives with me and allowing me to do the same. Buddy has not had any more episodes, and all his tests were normal. I will take him to his regular vet tomorrow to follow up. Hopefully this was just an isolated incident.

Blog Fodder (First in a series!)

Since our final destination for Thanksgiving this year was some 15 hours by car, my hubby (God bless him) decided to pony up for all of us to fly the friendly skies. The experience far exceeded my expectations. The check-in lines were not long, the experience going through airport security was relatively painless, and even though we were flying on cattle-car Southwest Airlines, we were able to get some pretty decent seats. To add to this glorious experience (for us, not for Southwest), the airplane was only half full. My son was able to have an entire row of seats to himself — thereby eliminating the need to engage “arm rest wars” with his sister for 2 hours and 25 minutes. My Thanksgiving Day travel experience left me with a real “Attitude of Gratitude”.

A funny thing happens when you write a blog (for me, anyway). Everyday, seemingly mundane experiences, in the hands of a seasoned blogging veteran (going on 8 months now – “I’ve come a long way, baby!”), are a never ending source for blog fodder. So what do you think I’m going to write about? Are you guessing that I will speak to the amazing physics behind a 80,000 pound, winged metal tube that is able to fly through the air? (You’ve obviously found this blog by mistake.) Perhaps you think I will write about the generous amounts of food (mini pretzels) and drink (ice laden plastic cups with approximately 2 ounces of your favorite canned beverage) they lavishly bestow on you. Did you guess that I might share with you my deep philosophical views on the subject of flight attendants and their “you’re lucky I’m even speaking to you” attitudes? (Actually, they were all pretty nice.) No, no, and no. What, pray tell, is the focus of this particular post? Well, silly! It’s Sky Mall!

For those of you who are not familiar with Sky Mall , it is a delightful little catalog that can be found in the seat pockets of most commercial airplanes. It is a literal extravaganza of a bunch of overpriced crap that nobody needs. How truly American! Truth be told, this catalog was such a wealth of material that I am forced to write a series of posts. I sense that you are all giddy with anticipation, so let me begin.

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide! (Part One)

Oh, what to give this year? Most of us have so much that we are either stuffing our closets, attics and basements to the brim or are looking for ways to get rid of the items that no longer have the sparkly shimmer of newness. But because I realize nothing says “I love you the most” like an overpriced gift, I am endeavoring to provide some gift ideas for even the most discriminating person on your Christmas list. For your shopping convenience, I have categorized items by the potential recipient of such extravagant awesomeness.

Let’s kick things off with the most important person on your gift giving guide. Namely YOU! And what better way to get everyone in the holiday spirit than some over-the-top seasonal yard art?

Tacky Holiday Decor

Nativity Set: What better way to express the true meaning of Christmas than a full color, pre-lit, blinged out Nativity Scene? Show all your neighbors that you heart Sweet Baby Jesus! And at the low, low price of $579.94 for the entire set, you might even consider buying one for your heathen neighbor.

sky mall nativity











Pre-Lit Bethlehem Star: If you’ve decided to purchase the Nativity Set, then all your neighbors are sure to see just how holy you are. But are you missing out on an opportunity to witness to those who may be traveling past your house via low flying aircraft? Never fear, this “majestic 7′ x 10′ tall lighted Bethlehem star creates a beautiful display on your roof that is sure to capture your neighbor’s attention!” A mere $59.99

sky mall bethlehem star














I don’t know about you, but nothing brings back sweet, childhood Christmas memories like “a giant inflatable, illuminated, animated 14′ long Christmas train!” When it comes to capturing the magic of Santa Claus and the little child in all of us, I say the bigger the better! ($199.99)

sky mall inflatable Christmas train












I grew up in an era before cable, satellite television and Tivo. One of the things I looked forward to each Christmas was sitting down in front of the old, 300 pound wooden box with a screen inside of it and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. That’s why when I saw “Brightly colored hammered steel brings Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Snoopy to life right in your front yard!”, I knew it must be mine! ($199.99)

sky mall charlie brown christmas








Looking for a way to frame your beautiful display of twinkly, Christmas cheer? May I suggest the Lighted, walk-thru 3-D Archway. “Welcome to your holiday “portal”! Archway’s metal-mesh frame is adorned with 400 pre-strung multi-color mini-lights for a brilliant color display at night. 129″ x 89″ tall overall.” ($149.99)

sky mall christmas archway









By now, some of you must be thinking, “Ah, Katdish! How pedestrian! I’ve seen all this before. How can I express my love of Christmas yet still maintain my sense of flair; my “razzle dazzle” if you will? Look no further. “Moving Hollywood-style Searchlights – with music . Two independently swiveling projectors cast large images that dance all over your home’s exterior from over 30′ away. Meanwhile, it plays your choice of 25 songs (20 Christmas, 4 Halloween, plus Happy Birthday) to add to the festivities.” ($139.99) I didn’t even know there was one Halloween song, let alone four!

sky mall christmas projector












And since you’ve invested wisely in your beautiful, festive yet tasteful holiday wonderland, wouldn’t it be great if you put all your neighbors on notice? “While waving one arm and moving one leg, this snowman stands atop a countdown clock much like that used at NASA for shuttle launches!” Let all those slackers know just how long they have to redeem themselves and their sparsely decorated yards! ($139.99)

sky mall christmas countdown snowman










So, there you have it. With a little help from our friends at Sky Mall, you can make your neighbors green with envy and your heathen friends red with shame as they behold your holiday yard in all its glowing glory.

We’re off to a great start! In my next entry, we will explore some fantastic gift ideas for your friends, family and business associates. Until then, remember that as long as you still have checks, you are never truly overdrawn, and that Christmas shopping is just the kind of “emergency” that your financial adviser was telling you about when he or she suggested you apply for a major credit card.