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Countdown to Christmas

It’s almost Christmas! Sarasota is in full post-Covid swing this season. My street seems to have kicked off the season by shifting the seasonal decorating into overdrive. Lift trucks are raising six-foot wreathes, miles of sparkling “icicles” are hanging from the eaves and Christmas balls the size of dinosaur eggs grace front entries. A snowman family has staked out a position down the street, and despite temperatures in the eighties and humidity off the charts, they’re still there.

My new neighbors across the street have gone full Buffett (Jimmy, not Warren) with palm trees elegantly outlined in green and white. I’m in the midst of untangling the spools of garden lights that have been gathering dust through the Covid time-out. I’ve plugged in the three-foot blow up pug dog that Amazon delivered and I’m heading to Lowe’s to scoop up the little-blow up puglets before they’re gone.

I stopped at the local post office today and shipped my Christmas gifts off to the frozen north. Should you be planning a trip of your own, go early. Ahead in line was one man shipping vitamins and chocolate to Africa. I know this because he had to put everything and its value on the customs declaration form while I patiently waited, with another twenty people fidgeting behind me. The things you learn while waiting in line.

Robin and I had the tree up on December 2, a new early record for us. Instead of carefully aligning the most tasteful ornaments, we just hung everything up. Somewhere, under all the glitter is a tree, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

Back in the previous century, when we still operated our business, we went on a trip to the Boston gift show see if we could find any business-appropriate gifts to mark the season. I can’t remember if we ever found gift items, but I can unequivocally tell you that we found ornaments.

Olde World Christmas had a booth and we spent hours checking off things to order. Our tree is a constant reminder of that day. Olde World produces exquisite glass ornaments and we’ve got six-inch gold dusted cornucopias, crimson red balls with little dogs (pugs?) perched on top, 8-inch icicles in rainbow colors, teal peacocks with foot-long feather tails and snow-dusted acorns in every color and size.

We’re lucky we overbought on the ornaments since the first year we put them on our real tree, we had a few problems. I can easily recall the sonic boom in the middle of the first night after the tree went up. We were up for hours removing all the ornaments and sweeping up the refuse until we could get a workable tree stand. The next year we switched to an artificial tree.

Despite trying to be as careful as possible, every year brings some new disaster. When we had real pug dogs, their little tails would hook some of the low hanging penguins causing another brittle crash and more head banging. Now that the pugs are long gone, we’re dealing with fumbling fingers and diverted attention. Oops. The way this is going, I won’t have to worry about passing any gilt sailboats down to the relatives.

Last year, we had a cookie swap at the Ladies’ Christmas Golf Scramble (my idea). I still have a couple pounds of green and red sugar and a tub of tooth-maiming silver balls. Christmas cookies are one of those things that are a great idea until you begin making them. Buying the flour, sugars, butter (and more butter) is easy as long as you’ve refinanced the house before heading to Publix. I had a hell of a time getting the batter out of my hair.

If I need inspiration, I usually queue up the Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas album and play Little Saint Nick and Child of Winter until Robin takes over with Hawaiian Christmas songs. I put Love Actually in my Prime watchlist for Christmas Eve. I wait for those characters every year: Colin Firth, the socially hapless writer, the red-headed sex-obsessed catering helper heading to Milwaukee and Emma Thompson dealing with the cad Alan Rickman. And let’s not forget the basso security agent accompanying Hugh Grant in a chorus of Good King Wenceslas. Only twenty days to go!

Of course, not all Christmas is a wonderful and cheery. Later this afternoon, I’ll spend a couple hours deleting all the Christmas spam clogging my inbox. I hope your decorating is proceeding apace!

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