War On Christmas: My wife won’t let me use the laser.

A little Christmas Eve eve post to lighten your night and bolster you against the enemy. Who’s the enemy? Well all those godless heathens who who claim to love Jesus but hate Jesusy things, like America and cool lasers that cover your house with Christmas lights, that’s who. I mean how much coal do you have to have in your heart to not like laser beams that make your house a green and red field of Christmas cheer?

Now I am a guy who leans traditional at the holidays. I like Como, Bing, and Burl Ives. And I like putting up the old timey glass bulb lights like we used to do when I was a kid in Jersey. They were big, they were colorful, they were gaudy. In other words, they were perfect. The installation of the lights left a little bit to be desired.

We may have bent a few safety regulations putting them up. And by we I mean me, with my dad at the bottom of the 20 foot extension ladder that had already seen better days, yelling at me to be careful and don’t rip the gutters off the house as I dangled from the second story roof, some 25 feet above the ground. I am honestly misting up just thinking about it. Amazing what you miss sometimes. But man we laid down maximum effort at Christmas.

I recently went to a fall protection class at my current place of employment. Ladder safety was a huge topic obviously. The instructor probably had a complex by the end of the class because I could not stop giggling to myself as we went over all the OSHA, DOD, and DOE rules and regs governing the safe use of ladders. If any of those agencies had appeared on our lawn in the winters of 1975 through 90ish, they probably would have hauled us both off.

I don’t really have that issue here in Knoxville because the various roof sections are way too steep and I’m way too much of a coward now. Much more so than I was back in the 70s when men were men. But still I string my big bulb lights around the garage doors and the front door. I festoon the deck railing in back with my gaudy, go to hell 70s colored light bulbs. I even manage a few strands in the hedges out front.

It’s really a lot of fun, but that fun doesn’t come without effort. As it turns out age is directly proportional to effort. The older I get the less effort I feel like giving. Consequently the less effort I actual do give. But I dig Christmas so I was in need of a Christmas miracle of lights as it were. In steps my Neighbor Mike. Whilst curbing our new mutt, (to be covered in a later post), in the freezing cold of night, I glance up and see Mike’s house lit with a strange pattern of small red and green lights. I knew I was tired but it then appeared the lights changed pattern and then swirled around.

In between cusing and then admonishing the puppy/mutt to get on with his business, I ascertain Mike must have some sort of futuristic device generating his Christmas display. I must have this. After a quick text, he informs me the Kroger has them on the cheap. Well damn-it, I’ll be carrying myself down there the next day.

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

He was right. The Kroger had them. I went more on the cheap and got the stationary type. No patterns or motion, just straight up old fashion laser generated Christmas lights. And damn if they weren’t festive all to heck. Once more, it only required un-boxing them, jamming the steak in the ground at the desired position and plugging them in. That’s it. Done. In ten minutes I was lasering Christmas all over my house. And God said it was good.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

She loathes it. With the passion and heat of a thousand Christmas candles does she hate it. My somewhat snarky, somewhat actual suggestion that she just avert her eyes while she was outside with the mutt in the freezing cold night went over like a fart in church. So, much like my parents who battled non-stop over the position of the thermostat, me and my betrothed duke it out over the plug, that’s right singular plug, required to power the two lasers in my front yard. One freaking plug, how can you not like that? It’s a Christmas mystery.

It would be easy to make all kinds of Christmas villain comparisons here, like the Grinch or Scrooge or the Heat Miser, but it is Christmas after all. So let us just say Mrs Frank’s place lacks the vision and desire for a better society when it comes to Christmas technology. Even the mutt liked the lasers. He only tried to pee on them once. And frankly the lights look good on him.

Christmas Milo rocking the

Christmas Milo rocking the “Laser”.

As I have explained, I am as old timey as they come when Christmas is involved. But I’m way more lazy than I am committed to tradition. One extension cord instead of my life flashing before my eyes as I hang helplessly from a ladder and gutters made in 1967?

Yeah I’m good with new and sexy over old and traditional.

Merry Christmas Eve eve people!

Diary of a SAHD: Zero to Holly Jolly in 8 hours.

We dig the Christmas season just as much as the next family. We just don’t do a whole lot about it from Thanksgiving to Christmas day. We’re not grinches as much as we are lazy. I put up lights but that’s only because the neighbors went all Clark Griswold and I had to respond. That’s really an exaggeration. The Sac was a little subdued this Christmas. I know one thing, Frank’s Place is copying the next door neighbors and going all color lights next Christmas. You’re a trend setter Mike, and have delivered me from these awful energy saving dull white lights. But my meager light display was about as much as the yule tide spirit we were willing to imbibe.

Frank’s unwillingness to see Santa this year played right into our laziness. Scribing the letter was easy, no fuss no muss. Shopping was even easier. Wait in lines? Get up at 3am the Friday after Thanksgiving? Who does these things with the advent of internet shopping? It’s cold out there man. Ain’t no way I’m getting up that early to put on 3 layers of clothes just to wait in line so I can duke it out with Ma and Pa Kettle over an leopard print iPad cover. I’m not ashamed to say there were some days I was Christmas shopping at my computer without wearing pants. Not sure why I never got a picture of that. Ah well, opportunity lost.

A Santa only a homeless shelter could love.

A Santa only a homeless shelter could love.

Anyway, Christmas Eve rolls around and Mrs Frank’s Place gets the holiday spirit. Lets take the kids to the mall and get a picture with Santa she says. Eh ok, what the heck. So we dress them in their Christmas PJs and off we go. Line is short. This can’t be good. Annnnnd potty break for Santa. A mere 25 minutes later Santa’s bladder is right as rain and we’re making pictures. Result to the left. A Christmas Miracle!

Look man, I don’t mind sayin the Santas were all pretty damn creepy this year. Look at that dude. If I ran into that guy in a parking garage in broad daylight I’d crap my pants. It took all my will power to keep it under control for that picture and it was 11:30 in the morning. His eyes haunt me even now.

No matter we got the shot, Frank asked for a snow ogre and we headed out into the mall for some shopping and then out into the world for lunch, on Christmas Eve no less.

A Bond Unbroken 

After lunch we decided to pay a visit to Linda Claire’s grave with some flowers. If you are unaware, Anne Marie is a surviving twin. Linda Claire was her sister and she died five hours after being born. Neither Frank nor Anne Marie have ever been there so it felt like a risky proposition, but we pressed on and told Frank to ask any question he wanted.

Tracy showed Frank Linda Claire’s grave and I put Anne Marie down and let her walk to Frank. Except she didn’t walk to Frank. She walked up to the grave marker which is a flat stone, flush with the ground. AM stood there for a second, then crouched down a little and stared at the stone for what seemed like forever. It was somewhere in the 5 minute neighborhood, maybe 6  or 7. I was having a hard time processing. AM never made a peep. She just stood there slightly crouched, staring. Then she reached down, touched the plaque, said “baby, baby”, turned and waked back to the van. Cemetery trip concluded.

I question my own sanity even typing that last paragraph. I have absolutely no explanation for what happened. As my father said, why waste time trying to figure it out, just enjoy it. Well said Pop, well said.

Frank broke the silence by asking how would we get LC the flowers. Great question. We had no answer other than to say she could see them from where she was, in God’s house. Ten minutes later he asked “What about all the other names on the ground?” What names Frank? “All the other names on the ground in God’s house? Do they get flowers too?” LC is buried in the infant section of the cemetery. Most of the graves are marked with stones that lay flat on the ground. Kids pick up on the craziest things and then ask about it in a way that makes their parents start crying all over again.

Then it was cookie baking time. AM and Mrs Frank’s Place went off for a nap and that left me and Frank in the kitchen to get our Christmas cookie on. I gave the orders and Frank did all the work, short of putting the cookie sheets into the oven. He plays the mixer like a member of the Philharmonic. We cleaned as we baked and fun was had by all. All two of us. Cookies were out and cooling and it was time for church.

This was going to be the biggest test of the day. The picture below should give you an indication of how it went.

Running laps in the church basement. Baby Jesus better put on some track shoes.

Running laps in the church basement. Baby Jesus better put on some track shoes.

My theologically versed sister maintains that you receive grace even if you sleep in church. So running a half marathon in the basement should be worth a “double portion”, as Benny Hinn would say.

Church was OK for a first try in a long time. Thanks to an amazingly large basement the kids were able to run laps for the entire service. But we had to git on home, there were cookies to decorate.

But first we had to throw reindeer food on the lawn. Down here they call it bait, but it’s really food for Santa’s team when he comes to the Sac. Then it was cookie decorating time.

Frank’s cookie decorating style could loosely be described as a cross between the great cubist Pablo Picasso and a drunk of his ass Andy Warhol. Ultimately it got the job done. We put four masterpieces on a plate and put them under the tree.

Kids went off to bed and thus ended our first family Christmas Eve-a-palooza. We crammed more Christmas into this past Christmas Eve than we have the last 5 Christmases combined.

Not sure what got into us but it was a good day from start to finish.

By golly it was a holly jolly Christmas indeed.