Naughty or Nice

Someone, who shall remain nameless (*cough* Shaylee *cough cough*), seems to think that by being cute and kinda sorta not bitey for the few days before Christmas means Santa will forget everything that happened earlier this year.

Like the power cord that mysteriously chewed itself up, and the new power cord that chewed itself up in memory of the first one, or the dog who has bite marks on the top of his head … okay, well, that one was deserved. But what about the thumb drive that suddenly went missing because a certain four-legged someone likes to steal small, shiny things?  What about that, I ask!? Or the broken hair dryer because someone just had to knock it off the sink because no-one would turn the water on?

Yeah, Santa indeed. You’ll be lucky if good ol’ Krampus doesn’t pay you a visit at this point.

Oh, who am I kidding? No-one can resist that face, even Santa.

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I love Christmas. Ornaments for the tree? I have enough to fill my tree, my neighbor’s tree, your tree, and the National Tree in DC. Who cares if my tree is only 4 feet tall? Do I buy more every year? You bet. Christmas cards? Yup. I have enough to send out to people I don’t even know for the rest of my life. Do I buy more every year? You bet. Lights, snow globes, bells, wreaths, glitter … I’ve got it all. In spades. What’s even more fun is coming up with a gift list. Oh, not for myself, but everyone else. I truly enjoy gift-giving.

Well, ever since Halloween, I’ve been humming “The Little Drummer Boy” to myself and it made me wonder – is it ever too early to be thinking about Christmas? Some of you are rolling your eyes and harrumphing: “Of course, there is a too early for this crap Christmas time-frame!” I couldn’t agree with you more. We all know this. But humming to oneself like a nutcase and throwing up a tree and full-blown decorations are two entirely different things.

I’ve seen and heard so many people get straight up grumpy about Christmas making an early appearance – I’m one of those people, actually, as I gripe about Santa and decorations showing up in stores before Thanksgiving has even reared its fine-feathered head, and yet every year it keeps happening. Earlier and earlier we see the commercial side of this supposedly altruistic holiday.

Back in the day, it was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa who set the timing for the season. Then the stores got the idea to bolster their profits by having Black Friday which, in reality, starts way before Thanksgiving when you think about all of the advertising, early-bird deals, etc. Now, the stores are like: “Is it almost Halloween!? Dust off last year’s Christmas paraphernalia and throw that out there with the turkey napkin holders, pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons … let’s get this Hallowthanksmas conglomeration started!”

Consider all the money that goes into Christmas. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend roughly $929 on gifts this year. That doesn’t include holiday travel, decorations, or food, which I’m sure is some astronomical number of dollars. Given the huge investment that the Christmas season is for many people – not to mention, the profit margin for the businesses who have honed their capitalistic holiday campaign, it’s no surprise that they want to get their money’s worth. After all, if I was spending almost $1000, I’d want to have warm seasonal fuzzies for far longer than a month. “Hey, I bought that singing, blow-up snowman for my yard and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to annoy my neighbors with it for as long as possible!” Okay, fine, so annoying the neighbors is an “all year” treat that I do take advantage of, but that’s just me.

Decorating a house, depending on your commitment level, can take some serious time, with the tree alone taking a few hours. Lugging boxes from the garage and carefully putting hooks on every individual ornament isn’t something to take lightly. Getting that just-right Griswold effect on the house is also a feat that is nothing if not time-consuming. I mean, I can totally understand that if people go to all of that effort, they want it to start as early as possible and last until they’re good and ready to take it all down. Even if that means those decorations stay up until Spring.  A friend of mine used to leave her Christmas tree up long enough that it became a Mardi Gras tree around mid-March, just for the sheer fact that it was too pretty and too much work to take it down.

As much as I love Christmas, and I do love Christmas, my tree is up barely in time for the day itself and comes down the day after. Love the holiday, hate the clutter. I always dream of a decorated home worthy of a Home and Gardens cover, or at least, a photo spread on the inside pages … but alas, my anxiety won’t let me. Or rather, it does, but if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Now Christmas songs seem to be a different animal entirely. Songs don’t take much effort (for the listener, that is), but like any song, there can be too much of a good thing after a while. So, should we be listening to Christmas songs as early as we are decorating? Radio stations certainly think so. Literally the day after Halloween there are round the clock Christmas music broadcasts. Maybe that’s why I’ve had vintage pa rum pum pum pums rattling around in my head. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Bonus, my not quite under my breath singing annoys my coworkers, so there’s that. In all fairness though, by the time Christmas is over I’m so sick of hearing “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” that I want to die. I think the secret to success with Christmas music is creating your own playlists. And earplugs when traipsing through the department stores with piped-in music. No-one wants those songs in their head all day.

When it comes right down to it, the Christmas season is whatever you want it to be. Do I hate retailers who put out their inventory before that Thanksgiving turkey even hatches? You better believe it. Am I going to be rifling through that very same inventory as excitedly as a child at um… Christmas? You better believe it.

Big Brother is Watching … Oh, Wait …

On those sleepless nights when you get a craving that only leftover cake can satisfy, as you’re walking through your peaceful abode, have you ever had the feeling that someone is watching you? Yeah, well. In my house, as it turns out, someone IS watching you. Your every move in fact. Especially where food is concerned.

Holly, aka the ne’er-do-well, hanging out on the fridge waiting to scare people to death. I mean, all I wanted was cake! Not the rush of adrenaline that so predictably accompanies a dark shadow popping out at me in the middle of the night.

A Dog’s Love

Rufus’ only job is to love me. He thinks he has to protect the house from the mail carrier, the cat across the street, the leaf blowing down the sidewalk, and anyone who happens to walk past our door… those who have the audacity to knock must die of course, and if it weren’t for me foiling his plans, goodness knows how many notches he would have on his belt by now. But in reality, his only job is to love me, and he does it very well. The below is evidence of this.

I’m not sure whether I should feel guilty for leaving him out in the cold, as it were, impressed with his staying power (he apparently stayed this way for 30 minutes), or comforted at the idea that someone loves me so unconditionally that they would willingly stand guard awaiting my return from the bath.

Rufus the Invincible

Hi, We’re the New People in the Building

Don’t let this face fool you.

This cat is an asshole. She derives some sort of feline pleasure from occasionally tormenting our dog Petra … she will threaten her by not allowing her to pass by or walk through a door or she will latch on to the back of Petra’s neck or nip her ears. It’s not something I condone or allow, but I don’t always catch it before it happens. When it does happen … everyone, but everyone, knows. Because Petra screams at the top of her little Chihuahua lungs just as if someone were trying to murder her. Now you might say, of course she does! I would too!  But the thing is, Shaylee doesn’t always actually make contact, and when she does, it’s not as horrific as it sounds.  Shaylee’s intent is not to hurt so much as to amuse herself. Remember, I did say she was an asshole.

The key thing here to keep in mind is, Shaylee doesn’t always make contact. Sometimes she just gives Petra the ol’ cat stink-eye. However, if she’s stalking Petra and Petra knows it, Petra will scream … figuring the best defense is a good offense, I guess. Scare ‘em off with crazy.

This sibling intimidation hasn’t happened in a while and I can only assume that rather than the fulfillment of my hope for a peaceful, harmonious familial unit, it was instead simply because Shaylee was a little rattled after the move to the condo we now call home. (I will digress here a moment just to mention that unlike the noise dampening construction you might expect in privately owned condos, ours is more like your standard apartment building … we’re all well aware of what everyone else in the building is doing at any point in time.)

At any rate, round about midnight last night, I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I killed my dog.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

A Little Game Called Doorbell Dodging

I am sitting in my comfy chair, in my fudge stained favorite sweatshirt, hair pulled back in an unkempt knot at the back of my head.  My teeth aren’t brushed, no make-up on, coffee in hand, laptop on lap, Maury about to announce who the father is (I gotta know!).  I stop cold, a spoonful of Captain Crunch lifted to my mouth.  I hear a car, I hear footsteps…I know what is about to happen.  Yet I’m powerless to stop it.

The doorbell rings. Ugh.

I immediately go into Doorbell Dodger mode.  I haven’t moved this fast since I found out there was only one chocolate glazed donut left in the kitchen at work.

First step, shut off the TV (dang it, now I’ll never know who the father is), then dive head first under the coffee table and hold my breath.  I can’t recall if I closed the curtains on the front door, and darn it, I see the visitor doing the “shade the eyes and look through the window” thing; it’s really kind of creepy.   The doorbell rings again, then the mystery person knocks.   Maybe even a cheery “Hello” from the other side of the front door.  Is it my neighbor?  A friend?  Publisher’s Clearing House? Jehovah’s Witness?  The police looking for me after I jaywalked last week? I may never know, because I hear a scuffling of feet before a car door slams and the sound of a car engine fading into the distance.  I tiptoe to the window and gently pull the curtain to the side, not far, just enough to peep through.  Car is gone.  That was a close one, I narrowly escaped. Whew!

Now that the threat of invasion is over, I start to wonder about the identity of the mystery caller.  I open the door and check for packages, letters, any clues at all.  Now the burning question — other than who the father is, obviously, is…who was the random caller?  And why the hell were they at my door? The downside of Doorbell Dodging is that you will be obsessing the rest of the day over who it could have been.

I feel kind of hypocritical.  I post sweet statuses about my door always being open, I’ll always be there, night or day if you need me…but really, those are just statuses I copied and pasted because I was too lazy to think of one of my own.  The reality is, I don’t like unannounced people on my doorstep.  I’d say call me first, but I never answer my phone either.

I have learned to transform into full Ninja when I hear a car in the driveway; I’ll be locked in the basement before you even hit the first step.  When I miss the tires on the gravel, though, I can get caught short and have to hide behind curtains or furniture. I’ve gotten really good at, if I may say so myself.

What is it about a doorbell that turns us into secretive fugitives in our own homes?  The guilt of our actions makes us feel that our visitor has X-Ray vision and can see right into the bathroom, behind the shower curtain, and into your soul.

I don’t mind company if I know it’s coming.  Ok, I don’t despise company if I know that it’s coming a week in advance.  All right, all right; I will tolerate company if they have made a preset appointment a month prior and have stated the exact purpose and length of their stay prior to arriving.

I’d be a little more ashamed of this if I thought I was alone, but I know I’m not.  I am working on a few inventions for my fellow Doorbell Dodgers, if you’d like a sneak peek:

  • I am going to design a cover that turns my car invisible because I feel the car in the driveway is a dead give-away that I am doorbell dodging.
  • I will be inventing a table disguise that can be slipped on at a moment’s notice, transforming myself into a piece of furniture for the duration of the doorbell episode.
  • I have brainstormed the idea of stick-on house numbers that can be slapped over your real numbers, making your visitor think they are at the wrong door. I just can’t figure out how to install the numbers in stealth mode. Slipping my arm out the door long enough to affix the decals – and in full view of the intruder on my welcome mat, seems a bit awkward … not to mention alerting them to my whereabouts.
  • I have crafted suction cups for your hands and feet, so you can scale the wall like a fly and hang on to the ceiling to avoid detection. (this one is my favorite just in case you wanted to know)
  • I have recorded an endless loop of shower noises to be played over a loudspeaker, activated by the push of the doorbell. I have also recorded sneezes and horrible fits of coughing to scare the offender away.  For a small additional charge, you can upgrade to my recording of the barks of St. Bernards, German Shepherds and Great Danes with a voice frantically screaming, “Get back, get back!” in the background.
  • When all else fails, I have created a pair of “pants” that slip on the front only, so it appears you are wearing pants when you answer the door. This is a last resort … a Hail Mary if you will. Just be careful to remain facing your visitor at all times.

Let’s face it, the doorbell can ring at any time; it’s just a matter of when.  Always be alert, and until I can roll out my aforementioned handy-dandy inventions, be prepared:

  • Have a blanket the same color as your couch cushions to throw over you when the doorbell rings
  • Practice your escape route often. Be prepared to hurtle over barking dogs and dodge obstacles in the hallway for a clean escape.
  • Have more than one hiding place in case someone else in the house beat you to the first one.
  • Plan a spot to meet your family in the house after the visitor is gone so you can monitor windows in case he changes his mind.
  • Never let your guard down. Doorbells can ring at all hours of the day and night.  You are never really safe. Practice your stop, drop, and roll crawl across the living room floor on a routine basis.
  • Remember that sometimes a visitor will remain on the step for a minute or two after the last door chime. This is a trap that has caught many unsuccessful doorbell dodgers in the past.
  • Keep a pair of pants by the front door, just in case.

All kidding aside, anyone is welcome to my home, any time.  Just sign up for an appointment, call me in advance, and answer my prescreening questions.

Also, bring a bathing suit and be careful; that moat is full of alligators.