Friday, December 14, 2007

Hallmark holidaze.

I've been buried under a mound of work (or, more accurately, a pile of greeting cards) and am finally resurfacing. And now looking around, I realize it's almost Christmas.

Here's what I can't stand: Christmas.

Actually, I shouldn't discriminate here because as a general rule, I hate most holidays. I'm probably the least festive person I know. So it's beyond ironic that I spend 70+ hours a week working to drive the sales of a company that arguably invented most holidays. Even better, I'm almost counting on my workload from this greeting card giant to serve as an excuse for getting out of Christmas festivities altogether this year.

It's not that I hate spending time with my family. For the most part, I quite enjoy seeing them. And stuffing my face with holiday treats is always enjoyable, even if staring at my ever-expanding ass isn't. When you get to the core of my distaste for holiday observances, really, I'm just lazy, cheap, and increasingly cantankerous. As such, I'm pretty much a massive pain in the ass from October to February.

Which is where living with an extremely festive person gets tricky. This past Halloween, I came home to find 12 tiny pumpkins strewn across the bench in front of our apartment.

"Soooo, what's the deal with the pumpkins?" I asked my roommate.

"OH! Well, you see, it's almost HALLOWEEN! And they're like little mini pumpkin children sitting on the bench!"

I tried very hard to keep my eyes focused, as they were all set to roll right up into my head.

"Ah. Yes, of course," I said, glancing down at a nasty, rain-warped case of Pabst Blue Ribbon that had been sitting on our front doorstep since our last party several weeks before. "I guess this case of PBR will be my contribution to the decorations."

Typically on Halloween, so as not to contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic, I make sure my lights are all out and hide out in my bedroom all night, cursing anyone that dares ignore the obvious "leave me alone" cues. But as fate would have it, this year I had a meeting at my client's headquarters on Halloween, and left that morning inadvertently dressed...

exactly like a jack-o-lantern. Because I'm not a festive person, and because my flight left very early that morning, I can only claim I wasn't fully awake when I pulled my new orange sweater over a black skirt, tall black boots, and green earrings as the finishing touch which I thought contributed nicely to my autumnal palette.

However, when I arrived at my meeting, I was met with my client cheerfully exclaiming, "Liz!!! You look just like a PUMPKIN!" I went totally red, glanced down and realized that I was the corporate equivalent of Mrs. Harris, my sixth grade math teacher who had a closet full of appliqued seasonal sweaters. "Oh..." I said awkwardly while faking enthusiasm through a clenched smile, "yeah, I figured if anyone would appreciate it, you guys would!" Despite winning points with the client, I couldn't have been more annoyed with myself.

Needless to say, my roommate laughed hysterically when I told her of my oversight - thrilled the universe had forced a celebration upon me. And because I knew she wouldn't count on the holiday gods to work their magic on me again for Christmas, I wasn't surprised when I came home two weeks ago to find a pack of ornament hooks on the coffee table. (Please note the genius of my roommate and her subtle preparation for what was to come.)

Four nights later:

"Guess what tonight is?!?"

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I think both the dad AND a kid have cancer in this episode. It's nuts."

"Hmmm. Well, yes, that's on tonight. BUUUUUUUT," she squealed, "it's also time to DECORATE!!!"

The time had come. While she scurried off to her bedroom to put on Christmas music and begin pulling out ornaments, I went to the trunk of my car to get the only two holiday decorations I own: a Christmas tree and reindeer. Both are cut out of sheet metal, which is quite fitting for me, but also causes them to be quite heavy. And as I store them in my car trunk, I figured I'd give my gas mileage a break this month so I brought them upstairs and put them by the front door.

My roommate came shuffling in with her box of ornaments, and began hanging them pretty much any place she could...except on a tree.

"What are you doing?"

"Oh, well I don't have a tree, so I figured I'd just hang them wherever."

By the end of the night, ornaments were hanging off most everything in our living room. Each branch of our fake plant had one. Our "octopus lamp" that has lights at the end of five metal "tentacles" each had an ornament. She hung her stocking off the box that contains our doorbell, and then put three porcelain reindeer on top of the television as well as some colored lights on our bookshelf.

I have a cat that's beyond neurotic, and shiny things dangling from every surface of our home casting dancing lights on the walls sent him on what could only be described as a full-on trip. He was racing around everywhere, eyes wild and fully dilated, batting and eating ornaments, only to then try to scale the walls in an attempt to catch the lights being cast on them. As our neighbor later observed, it was as though someone had hung bags of heroin in Pete Doherty's apartment.

"You should know," I told my roommate as I watched my tripped out cat run around the room, "that I'm not going to apologize if something happens to these ornaments. You've lived with Gus long enough to know he's insane and that this is a recipe for disaster."

"Oh, he'll be fine," she said as she looked at Gus gnawing on a sparkly snowflake, his eyes darting around the room nervously.

I have to admit I was skeptical, but he has since come off his ornamental high and now ignores the decorations. Admittedly, the fact he doesn't have opposable thumbs (or really, even fingers if you consider he's declawed) and yet he, too, is already over Christmas, is a tremendous source of pride for me. And I'd devote more time to admiring his statement of solidarity, except I have work to do.