Holiday Decorating Quiz Extravaganza

I adore decorating magazines, especially in December, because they have those fun quizzes in them, like the one I did this year on how to “Unwrap your signature holiday style”. I love it when anyone assumes that I actually HAVE a style to unwrap, like there’s a part of me just DYING to run into a forest and gather evergreen boughs and whatnot. The explanation under the headline was “If determining your home’s holiday look is your own personal nightmare before Christmas, fear not. We’re here to help.” Personal nightmare?! Aren’t we getting a little dramatic here? Because the nightmares I have focus on the house burning down or worldwide pandemics, not so much on whether people appreciate my decorating style. But the magazine thoughtfully provided a list of 10 questions to help me determine exactly how to discover my “festive style” by giving me four choices—A, B, C, or D, and then adding up the choices to correspond with a style. Here we go:

1) Which winter wreath would you hang?

I chose D, the “Feathery Evergreen”, except that I would forgo the peacock feathers and bow, and add twinkle lights. Now it looks just like the wreaths that Ken and I hang in our windows every year. We keep them in a closet under the stairs along with the twenty extension cords we need to make them light up.

2) Choose the prettiest gift wrap.

While “Snowflake Chic” and “Golden Glamour” were both very fetching, I myself am partial to “Last Year’s Leftovers” with a side of “”Scotch Tape and a Bit of Ribbon”.

3) What’s Your Must-Watch Christmas Movie?

I’d only seen one out of the 4 choices—A Christmas Story, which is so wonderfully random with the leg lamp and the pack of dogs that continually appear out of nowhere to wreak havoc. As for the other options, It’s a Wonderful Life is way too morbid, A Muppet Christmas is way too Muppet-y, and I’ve never actually seen Love Actually. MY must-watch movie is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Not the live action film, which is ridiculously over the top, but the original animated classic, which I can recite almost verbatim, having watched it every year since I was old enough to remember. It’s tradition, and I don’t care if it messes up my style score. Also, Die Hard WASN’T on the list, which frankly is ridiculous because it’s the best Christmas movie of all time. Yippee Ki Yay indeed.

4) Which candles will you set out this season?

While “a selection of unscented tea lights and votives in mercury glass containers” sounds quite glam, I’m gonna go with NONE, because as I previously mentioned, one of my personal nightmares is having the house burn down, and candles are tiny fires that aspire to be bigger ones, in my book. Don’t get me wrong—I HAVE candles but I only use them when the power is out and I can see them in the dark.

5) Which wallpaper would you use for an accent wall?

What? Now I’m putting up wallpaper?! Go to hell.

6) Select a pair of holiday pajamas

OK, this I can get behind. I’m going to pick…a “monogrammed crisp white button-down nightshirt and matching pants”? Nooo. “A long sleep tee featuring a flamingo donning a Santa hat”? Nooo. Ok, these choices are NOT appealing to me. I shall choose the reindeer patterned flannel pants I bought last summer on sale, accented with a Joe Fresh tank top in “used to be crisp white but then I washed it with a black hoodie and now it’s kind of grey and I only wear it to bed”.

7) Your Yuletide tree is…

Whichever one is closest to where we parked the car at the tree farm. The magazine’s option D is “An imperfect long-needled pine, chopped fresh from the forest”, so I kind of won this one except that in recent years we’ve been buying small potted trees that we can replant in our yard in the spring rather than going into the forest, finding the biggest tree and chopping it down with…a herring (that’s your Monty Python reference for this post) . The best part of this question is option C, the picture of a “life-like” tree that you can buy from Canadian Tire for $500. I can get a whole decade’s worth of real trees for that price, imperfect though they may be.

8) Pick an ornament.

One of the choices is a felt ketchup bottle. It’s thirteen dollars. I can’t even. I’ve used the same vintage glass ornaments from the early twentieth century for the last twenty-ish years. I also make my own ornaments to give out to friends and family made from wood. On a more serious note, I choose a word each year to burn into them–this year’s word is HOPE because I think we all need a little bit of that.

9) Choose a Christmas card to send out.

I would if I could ever remember to actually send out Christmas cards in time for them to get to people. So while I love the “Paisley Reindeer Card” ($7, Hallmark. Yes, for ONE card), I usually end up buying a box of whatever’s left at the local convenience store, and taking them with me when we visit family. Nothing says “love” like hand-delivery, am I right?

10) How do you usually spend Christmas Eve?

None of the options seemed quite right, so I made up my own. Being with my family, enjoying good food and drink, listening to beautiful music, laughing and hugging, and being grateful that the house isn’t on fire.

When I tallied up my score, I’d gone rogue too many times to establish a Christmas style. I wasn’t “Formal Elegant”, “Colourful Eclectic”, “Fresh Contemporary”, OR “Rustic Country”. And I’m good with that, because all of these trappings of consumerism are not what Christmas is about anyway. To quote the Grinch:

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

grinch

Have a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and anything else you celebrate in December even if you can’t be with the ones you love. Here’s some hope from me to you that next year will be better.

My Week 238: It’s A Miracle

As I told you last week, I’m working off-site with no days off except for yesterday. I’m really tired and it’s making me a little punchy. I know this, because on Wednesday morning, I turned on my laptop and actually yelled at my computer boyfriend Carlo because once again, he pronounced my last name wrong, and I was like, “SAY MY NAME RIGHT, B*TCH!”. Luckily no one was around to hear me because I arrive at the site incredibly early to avoid rush hour. I normally don’t mind that Carlo says the last part of my surname like ‘Why-Talk’ instead of ‘Whit-ick’, because who would even think that was correct in the first place, but in retrospect, I think he might just be passive-aggressive, because he has no trouble with the part that I own; it’s the part that Ken owns that seems to irk him, so maybe it’s subtle jealousy. Or maybe it’s just Ken’s name in general, because even my Car Phone Lady has a problem with it:

Car Phone Lady: Ready.
Me: Call.
Car Phone Lady: Please say the name or number to call.
Me: Ken.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Karen’?
Me: No.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Joe’?
Me: NO! Ken. Call Ken!
Car Phone Lady: OK. Calling ‘Maria’.

I call Ken at least twice a day from my car when I’m commuting, but she always, like literally EVERY TIME, makes me confirm that I do indeed want to call Ken despite the fact that I never have to confirm anyone else, including ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Jong Uk Park’.

So there are several things irritating me, and when I told Ken last night that I was feeling punchy, he looked at me questioningly and I said, “That means I might punch you”, which I did at about 2 am when he wouldn’t stop snoring. Finally, I said, “You know what?! I’m going into the other room and I’m taking Quackers and Brian with me!!” and he said, “GOOD! Then you can’t hit me with them anymore!” (Quackers is a duck and Brian is a shark, in case you’ve forgotten.)

But the one good thing about being away from the office is that I’m almost next to the airport, and watching an airplane take off is something that never gets old for me. The other day, I was walking to the plaza to get lunch. I looked up as a huge jet roared by, and I thought ‘People are so smart. Look at that airplane. A monkey couldn’t invent an airplane. They aren’t even particularly good butlers.’ And I know this because I have done quite a bit of research on the topic “How to Train Your Monkey Butler” and let me tell you, it doesn’t sound very promising. So I was on a huge ‘people are so smart’ high until yesterday morning when I heard some cars pull up and I looked out my bathroom window at the church across the street. We live kitty-corner to two churches—I call them the “Platform Diving Jesus Church” and “The Other Church”. As you may guess, I don’t attend either of them. I got their names from the fact that a couple of years ago, the doors of the church directly across from us were painted with an angel on one side, and Jesus on the cross on the other, both in gold paint. It looks very nice up close (well, the angel does, but I always feel sad for Jesus), but from far away, it looks like Jesus is about to dive off a cliff or whatnot.

Am I right?

Anyway, from my bathroom window, I could see five men standing around a piano which was sitting on a flat cart on the church walkway. It looked like they had just unloaded it from a rather small mini-van—a feat unto itself, I would imagine. I could hear yelling, so I opened my balcony door. The men had surrounded the piano and were having a very loud discussion in what sounded like German. Were they an angry yet musical Saxon mob intent on a good sacking? After a few minutes though, it seemed like their intention was to put the piano INSIDE the church. And I say ‘seemed’ because they kept just wandering around the piano, staring at it dubiously, and talking a lot. I had nothing better to do, and it was a beautiful sunny morning, so I went out onto the balcony to watch.

After a lot more Germanic discussion, the youngest-looking guy ran over to the mini-van and brought out a long strap, which he looped around the piano. ‘Here we go,’ I thought. Nope. They all just stood back and stared at it again. I wanted to yell, “Just push the damn thing, for Christ’s sake!” which seemed appropriately church-y, but then the guy ran back to the mini-van. He reappeared with what looked like a gas can and at first I thought maybe they were going to set the piano on fire and claim an angel spoke to them from within it, like a ‘burning bush-type scenario’, so that they could blame God for not getting it inside the church. However, it was only a toolkit. The young guy took out a hammer and started hammering at something while the rest just stood around. One of the other men put his hood up, like he didn’t want to be recognized, and frankly I don’t blame him because I was at the point where I just wanted to march over and push the piano through the doors myself. Then the one with the hammer ran back to the mini-van and grabbed what I thought was a blanket of some kind, but it was just his coat, which he randomly donned, then he looped some kind of harness around his shoulders and waist. ‘Aha!’ I thought. ‘He’s going to hook himself to the piano and pull it in like a team of oxen’ but again, I was disappointed. And then I was really confused because they started pushing the piano down the walkway and I had a moment where I thought they were going to take a run at the door with it, but again, NOPE. They wheeled it back towards the mini-van and I was like “What? Don’t give up Hans, Karl, Kristoff, Otto, and Gunther!” (which is what I had affectionately started to call them in my head), but then they wheeled it PAST the mini-van and kept going. Down the street. I watched until they were out of sight, then I quickly got dressed and hopped in the car to see where they went, but they, and the piano, had disappeared like some kind of vaudevillian miracle. But then I had a terrible thought–what if I had just witnessed a crack German heist squad, not unlike the villains in Die Hard, actually ROBBING the church?! So I tried dialing 9-1-1, and the Car Phone Lady said, “OK. Calling Ken.”