I warned you this might happen. You came back anyway, so you get to hear about more Christmas traditions. Maybe tomorrow will come with something compelling and funny, but this is what you get today. It's about the decorating, and this little tradition happens in 3 phases. The first is Mrs. Spiffy telling me it's time to decorate, at which I grunt, shrug, and put it off. There's always next weekend. Invariably, next weekend brings a blizzard. So, after bundling up in a ridiculous amount of layers and spending an hour finding my gloves, I haul out the buckets of lights and a ladder to festoon as much of the house as I feel like. One year every corner, edge, and ridge had lights. That was an ordeal I didn't want to repeat, so I haven't. Now, it stops at the front porch and a little candy cane, and a couple little trees get splashed with light. It looks pitifully weak next to the high-wattage neighbors, but I'm just not that gung-ho. And, I think I've convinced the kidlets that Inflatables will never grace our lawn. In fact, I think they're joining me in my fantasy of sneaking out in my blackest outfit on some dark night to wreak murder and destruction on all the Frosties, Grinches, and Sno-Globes in the land. Phase 2 involves finding, unpacking, and setting up the Pre-Lit Tree. The finding takes the longest, even though it's always in the same closet under the stairs. It's just way in the back, and it's our annual night of Finding Other Things that were stuffed in said closet over the past year. "Oh, THAT's where my favorite _____ went!" The tree gets set up and adjusted, then it's time for relaxing. Phase 3 may happen the next day or the next week, depending on how high on the feel-like-it meter we all are. Phase 3 cannot happen unless a) all of us are present b) all decoration boxes have been found c) we have time to 'do it right' and d) we are all in a Good Mood. Having all those planets align is a tall order, but amazingly, it's happened every year - even the bad years. We each grab a favorite ornament, count, "1, 2, 3, GO!" And the decorate-o-rama is on. The boxes are emptied in about 3 minutes, and the tree is filled with the same nostalgic ornaments as last year. Many are handmade, most are well worn, a few are downright tacky. Then, depending on whose turn it is, a kidlet puts the old tinsel-and-lights star atop the tree. They're far too big for me to hoist them up like the olden days, but still too short to reach. So I bend the tree sideways and they ceremoniously jam it on the wiry treetop. All the lights go out, and Dad gets to plug in the tree while we croak out the words of the nearest Christmas carol we can remember. Somewhere over the next day or so, snowscapes with lit houses, skating lovers, daredevil skiers, and maybe a train magically appear. It's out of my league for patience or ability, but it always looks nice. ================================ NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH Last night my eldest niece gave birth to a baby boy. I'm a Great Uncle. Heh.