How do you know it’s the day after Halloween? Every suburban strip mall blitzes red and green, and declares that evil is SO yesterday and all the cool people are now into elves and eggnog. Spooky store windows seem to turn on hinges like secret bookshelves in an enchanted castle revealing their twinkling toyshop side. Since the Christmas displays appear overnight, I picture a Mall Cheer Committee using Uzis of “Who-bilation,” like the one Martha May used in The Grinch movie, to shoot out strings of Christmas lights onto the roof.
For me, the decorations inspire warm and fuzzy thoughts of turkey angst and stress from the compulsion to create the most outrageously-themed doorway and holiday tablescape in the neighborhood.
When my children were younger, I jumped on the Pretentious Party Bus and labored over mantle mania, fir flamboyance, and bannister blow-out.
The themes flanking my entry consisted of everything from “Who-ville Yule” to “Holiday at Hogwarts: Glad tidings from Griffindor!”
And don’t even get me started about that creepy Elf on the Shelf. My first Elf bolted because I ordered him to clean up his messy, late-night Chardonnay exploits involving strewn Coco Puffs, and I heard he’s now living at Logan’s Steakhouse on account of there are peanut shells scattered everywhere anyway.
But later I succumbed to kid pressure and bought another Elf who unfortunately “enabled” my G.O.D. (Gone Overboard Disease). I not only decorated every surface with real cranberries, kumquats, and tea lights nestled in hollowed out vegetables, but everything had to MEAN something. One year my husband wanted to have a party at our house. Since he is Hispanic and has Latin blood, and since Latin for “big ol’ party” is “Magnus Ori-gameus,” the Elf on the Shelf and I decorated my mantle with a stunning display of magnolias and origami.
My need to impress ended after I hosted an amazing NASCAR-themed Christmas party. As guests strolled through my threshold laden with 1,027 blue spruce branches, most of them didn’t even notice the colorful race cars and checkered flags arranged in the greenery, the Ken dolls dressed as Jeff Gordon with Santa hats and sashes of fresh red roses, and barely-dressed Malibu Barbies who, of course, kissed the Jeffs for the photo op. And elves changing tiny tires. And beer-chugging fans dressed in little Willie Nelson t-shirts.
My oblivious guests went straight for the drunk dog cocktail weenies and never noticed the angel tree topper dressed in a black and red #24 jumpsuit. Everyone even ignored my official Budweiser tablecloth. I found my suicidal Elf, who could no longer take the pressure, hanging by his tongue from an ice sculpture of the Daytona 500 trophy.
Age and exhaustion cured me of G.O.D. My enabling Elf on the Shelf went to be with the Big Jolly Guy in the Sky after freezing to death from the ice sculpture debacle. My family says if I’m ever tempted to buy another Little Helper that rouses my addiction, they will stage an intervention and cut up my Hobby Lobby Visa card.