Christmas comes in many flavors. Priests rejoice because they’re preaching to a packed house…for the first time in six months. CEOs of retail store chains pray for customers, credit cards and a fourth quarter earnings report that beats analyst’s estimates. For the kids, Christmas means ripping open presents and watching Uncle Charley get soused in the easy chair.
None of that has anything to do with the deep spiritual message of the holiday. And that’s just the way we’re going to keep it. The Christmas I want to talk about is where parties, presents, and decorations are all that matters. In other words, consumer Christmas.
My Mother loved consumer Christmas. In fact, she just flat-out loved being a consumer. Going to bargain basement sales where she would elbow her way past other non-working moms to grab deals from the discount rack was nirvana. It was almost as good as smoking cigarettes. Almost.
Every Christmas Eve, Mom would throw a big party. Our little ranch house would be packed with friends and family. That party was a tradition, not just for us but all the guests. My mother loved being “the hostess with the mostess.”
Then I ruined it by growing up.
But hey, that’s what kids do. They go to college and move away from home. So Mom’s party got smaller…but not for long. I moved back, got married and became a Dad.
When my kids were little, Mom’s party was back on and Christmas was in high season. Each house on our family Christmas tour had a living room filled with presents, holly and, of course, a giant evergreen sparkling with lights and ornaments. It was a magical time.
Then my daughters ruined it by growing up.
Things have changed. My folks are gone and so is the big Christmas Eve party. Everybody’s too damn busy. And nobody even wants to bother wrapping presents. A bow on an Amazon box is good enough. Really? What’s become of Christmas at the Fink’s?
Not to worry. Our living room does have a Christmas tree. It’s not a fancy fake tree that actually looks good. It’s a cheater tree. It came in a flat box. It’s a spiral of wire wrapped with plastic evergreen needles and lights. It comes with a pole and a stand. All you have to do is grab the center of the spiral, pull it up and clip it to the top of the pole. Plug it in and you have instant Christmas. It isn’t so much a Christmas Tree as a Christmas Cone. My wife goes all out and drapes a long ribbon around it.
“That’s not a Christmas Tree!”
Okay, grumble all you want but it passes for a Christmas tree at our house. And I’m not alone in my admiration of this ultra convenient Christmas tree. Many Dads have asked me (quietly and out of earshot of their wives), “Where can I get one of those?”
To my knowledge, nobody makes them anymore. And no, you can’t have mine…at any price.
Tacky or not, this tree does something that the Douglas Fir you strapped to the top of your car can never do. It dances.
That’s right. Since it’s only attached at the very top, the tree has all the moves of a professional belly dancer. You only need one other thing to get it going…a house full of cats.
I can’t blame a cat for wanting to get under the tree. There’s plenty of room inside the Christmas cone and it’s warm and cozy. And if there’s only one cat under the tree you wouldn’t even notice. Unfortunately, we have three cats and two are brothers. When the two boys scoot under together, it isn’t long before an argument ensues. You can’t miss the signs.
The tree jiggles a little, then shimmies, then begins to roll. Shake those hips, baby. And finally, before you can make it across the room, it tips overs and hits the floor.
There’s a black and white blur as the boys exit the tree and head to higher ground to work out their differences.
The tree lights blink but don’t die. One of us sets the tree up again, and all is right with the world.
Until tomorrow, when the brothers return for another holly jolly cage match.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a cat fight!