Walsh's Wonderings — Christmas tchotchkes

Robert F. Walsh
Robert F. Walsh

My wife is a fan of tchotchkes, those decorative trinkets that have no intrinsic function other to annoy innocent husbands everywhere. Tiny figurines and pithy sayings painted on signs soil our shelves like weeds on a manicured lawn. Our window ledges and bookshelves creak under the weight of energy crystals, decorative vases and tiny potted cacti. Holidays, therefore, become opportunities for a level of proliferation that threatens to overwhelm even the most vigilant of suffering spouses.

No sooner does the calendar turn to December in our house than tchotchke obsession reaches its peak. Suddenly, wooden Santas are hung from every door knob and miniature Christmas trees adorn every commode. Little bells are tacked on all the doors that make our house sound like the entrance to a hardware store.

My wife loads up electrical outlets like Santa’s sleigh, utilizing extension cords from the Reagan era I’d thought I’d gotten rid of years earlier. It’s something right out of an old Red Cross fire safety video and a common blind spot for those unfamiliar with the limits of the family circuit breaker panel. However, our house is much more likely to burn down as a result of all the candles that make it seem as if we’re living in a medieval monastery. Combined with an unhealthy disregard for the dangers of outdoor holiday lighting, one could be forgiven for assuming we’re angling to get some insurance money.

We display two separate nativity scenes, one a family heirloom and the other a gift expensive enough to inflict guilt if we don’t set it up. The result is that stray barnyard animals and homeless people in robes take up most of the useable space on our mantle and end tables. I envy the baby Jesus all that room in the crib.

Every year, my wife promises we won’t put all the decorations up, but by Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day her true plans have been revealed. Ornaments I haven’t seen in 20 years somehow make their way onto the tree. Christmas-themed coffee mugs fill our countertops like reindeer poop. Did you know that Christmas draft blockers for doorways are a thing? I do, and you’d be amazed at the variety.  

By New Year’s Day, the act of packing up all these decorations takes longer than the journey of the three wise men. There should be a rule that holiday decorations can take only as long to pack up as their corresponding holiday TV special. Halloween? The same half hour it takes to show a Simpson’s “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Thanksgiving? “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” was 25 minutes. Christmas? I’ll give you the entire hour of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” although I’d prefer the 26 minutes of 1966’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (It works on many levels.)

I don’t mind our Christmas tree so much. I keep it up for months because it’s fake, out of the way, and fire resistant; everything a holiday decoration should be. If only it had a space for a nativity scene.

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