How to Put Up Holiday Decorations and Remain a Couple
‘Tis that time of year. Time to decorate your abode, inside and out, with traditional heritage holiday décor.
Today we’ll focus on the outside of the home. That’s enough of a challenge.
Because you’re a couple, you’re going to do this together, and that is going to create stress.
Possibly a lot of stress.
Assuredly a lot of stress.
Here’s how to do the decorations, together, without resorting to strong drink, drugs, weaponry, or some combination of all three.
You must first pick your level of commitment. There’s always that one person in your neighborhood (usually a male, but not always) determined to have the best outdoor holiday decorations. Sometimes a male of this persuasion mates with a similarly bent female to create a truly daunting couple.
Your solution? Let them win.
In fact, don’t even try. Would you challenge the offensive line of the Seahawks to a steak-eating contest, with the loser to pick up the bill at the steakhouse? Of course not. Your efforts would bring you physical pain, enormous expense, and would be a complete and utter waste of time. Your opponents would not only win, but might not even be aware that your puny efforts could be defined as competition. Who needs the humiliation?
I wouldn’t have believed it when I first thought about writing this, but now there’s a promo for a TV show based on this very concept. This will feature a Texas (surprise) couple who erect an enormously tall pole in their front yard, supported by sturdy gang wires and sub-frames, decorated with over 60,000 lights. They spend months on this and thousands of dollars. Every year. As the man says, “If it cannot be seen from outer space, it’s not worth doing.”
Decide where in the hierarchy of rational decoration you wish your efforts to fall. Select one of the following categories before you begin so you do not get lost in the process.
Traditional: Lots of lights on several levels of the home and perhaps on some shrubs and trees. Don’t worry about accidentally entering the “best” category – somebody else will outdo you.
Techno Classical: Lots of lights synchronized with classical music.
Techno Pop: Same but with modern music. You’re ineligible to enter this class if your average age is higher than 32.
Tacky: Lots of lights, probably blinking, combined with inflatable characters such as Santa and various reindeer. These are all hooked to a compressor you keep forgetting to turn on, so the characters all look like some version of… dead.
Traditional Religious: A yard display featuring lights and whatever scene matches the religion you follow.
Radical Religious: A yard display featuring lights and a religious –themed display not followed by you or any of your neighbors. Kwanzaa for all-white neighborhoods, something Jewish if all your neighbors are Lutherans and Catholics, that sort of thing. Bonus points for looking up some lesser religion that you (and the neighbors) have never heard of, and going with that.
Note: I don’t actually recommend this, but I do think it would be funny.
Casual But Trying: The best solution for most. Enough of a display so that it looks like you care, but not so much that it will bring you physical or financial hardship.
Nothing at all: Not recommended. I noticed on a stroll last evening that a few houses on my block lack any holiday decoration at all. There was a 100% correlation between these houses and residents inside who are referred to as “those people.” The same sorts of houses that no children visit on Halloween. You do not want to be those people. It takes a village, y’know?
You and your partner have now agreed on an overall approach, which may be a bit of an assumption on my part. You may have to start your wonderful journey of concessions, appeasement, and cooperation at this point.
Perhaps Religious Traditional can be blended with Casual But Trying. Or Religious with Techno Classical. In fact, any of the categories can be combined with Tacky and often are – intentional or not.
Your guiding principal in this decision and all the ones to follow must be: “It really makes no difference.” You may have to write this down and repeat it as a mantra (probably under your breath) from now until the job is done.
Just a couple of more rules and you’ll be ready to decorate. Together.
The first rule is that if either of you are over 40, your decorations planning may not include getting up on the roof. Getting up on the roof with eventually, inevitably, assuredly entail the person assigned the task falling off the roof.
This can disrupt holiday party plans with muttered statements like “OK, who gets to wheel him up the front stairs this time?” Not fun. Then there is the possibility of death, where every year Grandma will commemorate the season with “I told him not to do it.”
The second rule is that you must agree with any decorating concept your partner utters. Any. Just go along with it. After all, it really makes no difference.
Case in point. We are people of the Casual But Trying ilk. We have lights on the rhodies and railings of our back deck and all over the huge rhodies and shrubs in the front yard.
Every year Susan purchases far more strings of lights that anyone needs, and I keep my mouth shut. Sometimes all I can manage is a muffled squeaking about the expense, but effort is important.
Every year, we use all the lights Susan purchased, because we need them.
Every year I’m positive I can take an enormous wad of strung lights and launch them high in the air so they fall down on the other side of a 15’ rhododendron.
Every year Susan allows me to do this.
Every year it does not work, and we go through a laborious task of retrieving the string of lights, now entwined around all sorts of rhodie branches.
This year Susan decided she wanted to have a string of lights running down the garage side of the sidewalk.
This was a really stupid idea.
I said nothing.
They look great.
We then distribute the lights in a more or less random fashion. There are things that look like giant hair nets over the shrubs by the street and coming up the driveway, and then strands of white lights crisscross the rhodies in front of the house and next to the back deck.
We don’t plan this out, because we’re only Casual But Trying, and it makes no difference anyway.
Today one of the neighbors commented on how fabulous our house looks, and wondered how long we worked to create such perfection.
Last rule: Don’t tell anyone how little you worked on this.
Copyright 2015 David Preston