This is not our house. This is one of many houses on a street in an inner suburb that lights itself up from corner to corner in a spectacularly brilliant display of holiday lights. The street boasts its fair share of tacky inflatable winter wonderland snow globes and Santas perching precariously on the roof tops of these ranches, tethered on one end to the chimney, on the other end to the satellite dish. The lights blink, they spin, they emit LED shades that never fell into the approved “Christmas Color Spectrum” and they even span the street from house to house with sleighs and reindeer and twinkling lights. It’s gaudy and fabulous and a must-see every season, especially so early as they are all out in their yards tweaking the final designs and chatting about their new Costco finds. If you’ve ever wondered who purchases those things they show in the Lowe’s commercials this time of year, well…these people do. And as with most things, in true excess, they are truly wondrous. Our child was nearly speechless save for the uttering of the occasional “I want our house to look like that.” Again, this is not our house.
Our house would be the one that earlier in the day decided (on its own accord) to open up the back door and get a little fresh air, disregarding the fact entirely that the place is wired to the hilt with an alarm system that is trigger happy and connected to people with telephones. These telephones started ringing about the time that I was leaving my phone in the car to drop E off at school, and M was knee deep into his workday as well. Not reaching us, it marched down the contact list, calling my former boss, who was once removed from this contact list, but apparently, by his own good fortune, had mysteriously been re-listed. So he answered, and the cops were on their way. Not being able to reach us during this period he graciously drove by the house to check on things. The officers were exiting the house after going through all three floors to make certain that the door was not opened by someone else. It wasn’t. I will take the blame here. We had amassed all the trash from the house in little plastic and paper bags, and they were placed by this door which we only use to go out to the back yard or the alley dumpsters. I had discovered that a package was left on the porch there while we were on our Thanksgiving trip and perhaps had failed to lock the deadbolt…whatever it was, the weather shift and the winds had caused this old door to open despite having the snap lock engaged. When the officers arrived they found the back door wide open, bags of trash strewn over the kitchen floor and toured the house to investigate. When we finally got in this loop I rushed home to check things out. All was quiet, and after getting briefed over the phone on what had happened, I walked through the house myself. I noticed the sorted piles of laundry in the hall from the trip, the folded clothes on the bed, the piles of Christmas projects laying on the floors throughout. Of all the days to be on tour…I felt terrible that the place was in such disarray. I tried to convince myself that this was probably cleaner and nicer than most houses they entered, and at least, for the most part, it was creative clutter. But still. Ack. Always clean up your breakfast dishes before you leave the house.
I dropped some goodies off at the old office to say thanks again for the alarm trouble. Later that busy day, after another stressful day at work, I sent an email back to my former boss apologizing for the way the house looked if he had gone through it. The blown over trash pile at the open door was enough to make my cheeks burn. He assured me he hadn’t, and in fact the police officers had actually commented to him on what a great job we had done on the place. I had to smile at that one, and when I came back home in the evening I looked around again, over the Christmas projects and the laundry, and did see a beautiful house to be proud of. Now if it would only keep its trap shut… you better believe those locks are getting a double check this morning.
After a stressful day, we decided to just jump right into the holiday spirit, and take advantage of the last mild day before the winter storms of the weekend. We made our annual trek to get our tree, and I must say, as I do each year, this is the best one ever! See if you agree.
At eleven feet tall, this one is the biggest one we’ve ever squeezed into this house, so we ran out of lights at this point. We were all tired after a long day, so this afternoon we’ll brave the crowds and buy some more white lights, and try to pry our four-year-old away from the multi-colored light-up lawn ornaments. She’s seen them in their full glory now…there may be no going back.