Real Life Christmas versus Magazine Christmas
I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily. Currently, I’m making my way through David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks, which is approximately 500 pages, but about 200 pages too long. It was an interesting read until the second last chapter, when the rather regular narrative suddenly turned into Harry Potter, with characters having some kind of poorly explained magical battle, thusly:
“I aimed my pschycosoteric mind laser beam at Lord Pfenninger’s subterranean psychic temple. He responded with a sonic blast from his hypcampus, while his minions snickered and began laying down suppressing mind bullets. I waved my magic wand and disapparated…”
Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but it got pretty ridiculous, and frankly J.K. Rowling does it much better. Anyway, back to decorating magazines. Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that every single house is owned by people who have no children, pets, food, and who apparently never sit down, judging from the fact that everything is WHITE. White walls, white furniture, white carpets, white Christmas trees, white deer heads hung above white fireplace mantles. What the hell is going on here? Magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:
- A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments…and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are things that kindergarten children make. Runner-up to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUSSSST CRAZZZZY!
- A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:
Ken: That one over there looks nice.
Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.
- A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap PRESENTS like presents, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I LOVE you. NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.
- “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn!
- “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? I think if you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life. Like your children. Or personal hygiene.
- A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strewn the dining table with the shards. Yes, my guests love to eat dinner amidst broken glass. Happy, happy.
- Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “alcohol”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can try to hunt you down a can of tonic water from the back of the bathroom closet. Party tip b): “The Fabulous 4-step appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty 2-step appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly 3-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all. Party tip c): “Consider your guests dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master at this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:
- Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need 1 idea. All you need is the people you love the most—dietary restrictions and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people in it.
My Dirt Devil is Demon Spawn
This week, I decided it was time I got a small vacuum cleaner. I’m a pretty good housekeeper, sweeping the floors and using a Swiffer wet mop when necessary, but face it—I like to do things the easy way. For example, I use Windex to clean just about every surface in my unit, but it’s a little too labour-intensive to spray window cleaner onto paper towels, so I buy the pre-soaked wipes. I’m putting crap into the landfill either way—why not give myself a break? So it occurred to me that if I could get a little vacuum, I could clean the floors AND the carpets all in one easy shot. Most of my condo is hardwood, but I have a couple of throw rugs, and both bedrooms have broadloom that, sad to say, have not been cleaned since the previous tenants moved out, and are looking rather lint-y. Canadian Tire was having a sale (because when is Canadian Tire NOT having a sale, which begs the question: How much do Lagostina pots ACTUALLY cost to make, if the regular price is $400, but they’re on special for $49.99?), so on Wednesday, I headed into Canada’s favourite department store. Or, the store named after Canada—and tires. I was planning on getting something very small, but the sale was so good that I convinced myself that a larger upright on sale for 50% off was the best choice. It was a Dust Devil. The very name should have sent up red flags that there might be issues. A series of problems ensued, the first of which was that the vacuum cleaner box was very large and heavy. I had to walk several blocks back to my condo, and I’ll be damned if I was going to pay $12 for a taxi to take me less than a kilometer. The cashier waved me over though, and said she could make me a handle out of plastic bags and duct tape. Red Green would have been proud (for my international readers, he was a character on Canadian television who, in keeping with proud Canadian ingenuity, could fix anything with duct tape). Handle created, I carried the box out of the store. 20 feet later, I realized that I had made a serious miscalculation in the box weight/arm strength ratio. But, by changing arms frequently, stopping to rest every 100 feet or so, and occasionally dragging the box along the sidewalk, I got back to my condo.
When I regained feeling in my arms, I opened the box and discovered that the vacuum needed several stages of assembly. I got out my magnifying glass to read the instructions, and after trying to follow the obscure illustrations for about 10 minutes, I just went with my gut instinct and slammed it all together with intuition and a Philips screwdriver. Finally, I was ready to clean. Little did I know that the Dirt Devil was indeed possessed by demon spawn. I turned it on and it took off—after a few seconds of maneuvering it around, I realized that there were dents in the floor that hadn’t been there a couple of minutes prior. I got really nervous that the beater bar was trying to eat the floor, so I steered towards the Persian rug under my coffee table. Immediately, the fringe of the rug got sucked in and when I finally got the carpet extricated from the jaws of Satan, the binding and fringe were shredded. I was pissed off, but the thought of having to disassemble and return it was too daunting. I decided that if it could at least clean the broadloom in the bedrooms, I could justify keeping it. It took off on the bedroom rug like there were souls under the bed, sucking in the bedskirt at the same time. Then, when I swooshed it into the walk-in closet, it somehow managed to suck up the bootlace on one of my Doc Martens, and almost chewed the entire boot up in its devil jaws. I’d had enough. I turned it off, rescued my boot, and cast the damnable thing into the dark pit of my hall closet. My head was spinning (in that mentally exhausted way, not in that crazy Linda Blair/Exorcist way) from my demon battle. Maybe I should call a priest, just in case.