It started a few weeks ago. It all made so much sense at the time, the logic of it camouflaged the first step onto that proverbial slippery slope. The weather was benign; the weather was forecast to change, transform instantly into the deep freeze only recently departed. What better time indeed?
And what's the harm? Put up a few strings of coloured lights, albeit nearly a week before the end of November. Not like we actually had to plug them in right away, light up the increasingly long night sky. Better test 'em though, don't you think? Nice.
OK, if late November's pushing the season a bit, at least lights were all there was to it. What's this I smell? Shortbread? Christmas shortbread? The sweet smell of butter melting into sugar and flour with just a hint of piercing Mexican vanilla. Well, perhaps some things can be rushed a bit. Just a little bit though.
Any day now, maybe later today in fact, I'm going channel my inner contortionist and corkscrew myself into the long, narrow, dark closet and embark on a seasonal hunt.
Somewhere past the hanging clothes, beyond the extra dining room chairs, past the bookshelf of many forgotten treasures, the styrofoam cooler and burlap bag of garden potatoes, the rapidly reducing cache of garlic, behind the various soft-sided suitcases, rollies, briefcases, valises and clutches, on the other side of the large box labelled "Personal," though whose person its contents belong to may have changed over the years, and just past the treasures of persons past and the bag of golf clubs there isn't any other place for, somewhere amid the flotsam of life lived in too small a space, there lies what I seek.
Eleven months of the year they sit unnoticed except on the rare occasion when one or the other is in the way of some other, momentarily searched for thing. Being of so little use in everyday life, they tend to gradually find repose in the far reaches of the most inaccessible corner, necessitating much flailing and cursing and usually a query or two about whether the effort to dig them out isn't really more bother than it's worth. Rhetorical, of course. There's not much choice in the matter.
Christmas decorations. Treasures accumulated across several lives serving no functional purpose except, perhaps to let us reach across time and into memory both ephemeral and tangible. Tchotchkas designed to dispel any latent bah humbuggery of the season.
And so, I'll do my bit. Find a tree to lumberjack down and decorate after a fashion. Inflict those around me suffering from seasonal reflective disorder with nonstop carols. Eat, drink and be too merry, maybe even don some gay apparel. After all, 'tis the season.
Maybe your way ahead of me. Or maybe you're stuck in your own humbugville. Maybe you're just not sure or prefer to hedge your bets. Maybe you'd best take this little Christmas Kitsch Quiz and find out.
- It begins to seem a lot like Christmas for me on:
- Boxing Day. When else would you begin shopping for next Christmas?
- The morning of the first snowfall.
- That special day in July... when I finally get my credit cards paid off from last Christmas.
- December 24th... an hour before the stores close.
- The very thought of Christmas makes me:
- Flush with the warmth of being surrounded by all my family and friends.
- Want to rush to the attic and rummage through the boxes of colourful decorations.
- Burst out singing along with carols I hear everywhere, even the ones I don't know the words to.
- Nostalgic for the cold, dark days of February.
- My favorite Christmas dinner:
- Would be instantly recognizable in Dickens' England.
- Involves the words plucking and stuffing and would make a glutton blush.
- Goes from freezer to table in 30 minutes, assuming the microwave isn't broken.
- Is catered, ordered, or in a pinch, to-go.
- Christmas decorations at my house:
- Fill my family, guests, neighbours and even passersby with the holiday spirit if they get within 100 metres of my house.
- Are filled with rare and wonderful memories;
- Are hung with care... on a tree made from recycled two-liter plastic soda bottles.
- Do dust bunnies count? What if I shape them like reindeer?
- I quit believing in Santa Claus when:
- This is a joke, right? Tell me you're just kidding.
- I hit those rebellious teenage years.
- I saw two Santas on the same street corner.
- I ate the cookies and drank the milk myself and nothing bad happened.
- Christmas Eve will find me:
- Leading carollers around the neighbourhood then back to my house for homemade eggnog and cookies.
- At a late Mass celebrating the true spirit of Christmas.
- Up all night wondering what to do with the leftover pieces from every toy I've just assembled.
- At Garf's, hoping to get unwrapped.
- The Christmas carol I would be most happy to never hear again would be:
- It makes me sad you would even ask that question.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas.
- Whichever one goes pa-rum-pa-pum-pum over and over and over again;
- Just one? Thinking....
- The best Christmas parties:
- Are the ones I throw for family and friends.
- Involve lots of noisy children and Santa.
- Make at least passing reference to the true spirit of the season.
- Wind up on YouTube and get somebody fired.
- The worst Christmas I ever spent involved:
- Worst Christmas? This is another joke, right?
- Air travel, small children and the lingering smell of de-icing fluid.
- Bad fish in Maui.
- A drunk tank, a stripper and a jolly elf named Hans.
- My favorite Christmas cookie is:
- Gaily-decorated gingerbread men.
- Pure and simple shortbread.
- I prefer fruitcake... no, really.
- Any I don't make myself.
Add 'em up. A's are worth four points, b's three, c's two and d's one.
If you scored between 35 and 40, you are imbued with the true spirit of Christmas... and your friends secretly despise you. A score of 25 to 35 proves you are a hopeless romantic; keep tissues handy. If you scored between 15 and 25 you have strong, if latent, holiday tendencies and are very likely to purchase an air-filled, giant snowman any day now. If you score lower than 15, you very likely drink eggnog straight from the carton and prefer holidays that involve some pagan ritual, possibly human sacrifice.
Ho, ho, ho!