Congratulations . . . The winner from last week’s blog with Will Graham is : bn100. Please email me at christie (at) christie-craig.com with your snail mail address so I can arrange for you to get your prize. Will has even graciously offered to include an autographed ARC of his book, Sometimes, There Really are Monsters Under the Bed.
Now, I want you to imagine standing on my doorstep. You almost hate to come inside because the wreath hanging on the door is a work of art. The lights twinkling in the bushes and on the house are magical. Ahh, but one step into my entryway and you are more than willing to leave that magic behind.
The air inside is scented with freshly baked gingerbread cookies, all iced and hand decorated. I took hours doing this, you know. With your second breath you pick up a hint of hot apple cider that is sitting on the stove, with Christmas mugs right next to it, ready to be filled and tucked inside your cold palms.
In my living room you are awestruck by the roaring fire flicking and adding warmth to the home. A huge, perfectly shaped Christmas tree twinkles in the corner of my living room. Amazingly decorated, it holds a mix of coordinating, hand-painted ornaments.
Imagine all the presents under the tree: beautiful bows and matching paper. Each one such a work of art that unwrapping them is a crime. On the mantel are the stockings, hung with care, between the fresh garland that appears as if a professional decorator took hours getting it just right.
On a table beside the mantel is a Christmas village all lit up, complete with tiny houses, store fronts and a little train that rides around and around. From the living room, you can spot the kitchen table which holds the beautifully carved turkey and some fancy hors d’oeuvre with caviar.
Welcome to my home.
Welcome to my fantasy. Yeah, it’s all fiction.
Now, let me tell you what it’s really like. There are no Christmas lights outside. Hubby tried that one year and the neighbors laughed their asses off. How was he to know you didn’t just throw the lights in the bushes and turn them on? The wreath. I had one, made of pecans, and it was pretty. But squirrels got to it in the attic a few years back and ate the pretty off of it. I’ve been too busy to go out and buy another one. I always seem to have a book deadline right at Christmas. And I love a good fire in the fireplace, but since hubby forgot to open up the vents that one Christmas and filled the house with smoke, I hesitate to ask again. But if it stays this cold, I might chance it.
I bake cookies. But they are chocolate chip, not decorated, and at least one batch of them are always burnt because I get caught up with coming up with clues for the gifts I’m giving. Yes, we write clues on all our gifts and the person can’t open it until they try to figure out what’s in it. We all try to outdo the others with our clues. And then I usually burn another batch of cookies when I try to wrap those gifts. I am seriously wrapping impaired. I gave up on ribbons for the same reason I gave up on Christmas tree tinsel: because the cats eat the stuff and then run around with shiny things hanging out their back ends.
Now I always go with a real tree—I do love how it makes my house smell. Back when I allowed my hubby to go pick out the tree, it wasn’t just misshaped, it was downright ugly. I swear, he would find the ugliest tree because he knew it would never find a home. However, my son, who now works at a nursery, brings us home a nice tree every year. So the tree’s pretty. For about a day.
You see, my four cats think the Christmas tree is their seasonal play toy. They climb it, swing from the garland, knock off my ornaments, break a few, and chew the heads off a few reindeer. The only hand-painted ornaments on the tree are those my son made. And I laugh every year when I hang them. Let’s just say, art wasn’t his thing. I wouldn’t take a million dollars for them, though. Nevertheless, by Christmas, my tree always looks rode hard and put up wet.
There is no Christmas village, several years back, our late dog ate it, and the vet bill was so expensive we decided we were non-village people. There are no fancy hors d’oeuvres. Sorry, no caviar. Not only would the cats go crazy, but somebody would have to pay me large to eat fish eggs. You get carrots sticks and ranch and sometimes guacamole and chips. (Hey, we’re in Texas.) But don’t worry, the wine is the good stuff and dinner will be tasty. I said tasty, not perfectly carved. Hey, it’s the taste that’s important, right? We actually fight over who has to do the carving honor every year. And we promise never to laugh at how mutilated the bird looks when the carving knife is put away.
But not laughing is a promise we seldom keep. Because you see, what you do find at the Craig house is a lot of laughter. A house filled with family, friends, and too many pets. And like last year, I’m sure the cats will be busy batting the ornaments around that they snatched off the tired looking tree. Our dog, and this year my son’s puppy, will sit at our feet waiting for someone to “accidentally drop” a piece of poorly carved turkey. And we all pray they don’t pass anything while they are under there.
We’re not fancy, we don’t throw a Norman Rockwell Christmas—though I fantasize about it. However, the truth is we don’t need to do perfect. We do laughter. We do family. And that’s pretty darn perfect. Oh, and that’s what I wish for all of you. A holiday filled with laughter and family.