You can't Deck the Halls when they're crammed with boxes


I can't deck the halls this year because they're all full of boxes.

I haven't been much in the Christmas spirit this year. But I did watch a little Bad Santa - what a weird flick.

I've had a sweet little crush on Lauren Graham for years, but you have to really claw to hang onto the spirit of that movie. Wow.

Anyway, my hallway, as is typical this time of year, is full of brown cardboard boxes with these black arrow smiles on them. There's some other boxes, too, but my family will snoop through this column for hints, so we're not going there.

Sorry, Nat.

Suffice it to say that I deeply miss the days of shopping onsite for gifts. I think we'll all get accustomed to shopping online eventually, and if the taxes are actually coming into the area from those purchases, it makes it a bit easier to swallow. But I miss the sounds and smells and distractions of Christmas shopping.

The spontaneity of it all and the stop in that local watering hole to celebrate the season were part of the traditions with my brothers. Doing a shot od Peppermint Schnapps "every time a bell rings" is something that is missed, as well.

The more and more Christmas gets commercialized - as Charlie Brown so rightly prophesied - I get a bit more distant from the holiday. Maybe Halloween is moving up the on the list of favorites.

Anyway, I'm going to wait this year to put up the tree because the wife and daughter aren't coming until a few days beforehand.

Tay literally threatened to beat me up if I put a single ornament on the tree. She did acquiesce to allowing me to put the tree up, however.

That means we're going to do a traditional Christmas this year and may end up decorating the itchy thing on Christmas Eve.

To that end, I guess I better get the lights out and starting working on that hornets' nest. My patience wears thin with lights very quickly. And Lee insists on about 25 strands of lights, which makes the tree weigh so much that when a train goes by six blocks from the house, it wobbles.

But it is gorgeous when we're done. We don't believe in tinsel. That crap can be found for 364 days after Christmas, hiding on book shelves, stuck to vents, or wrapped around the brush roller on the Dyson vacuum.

And when we did have it, we had to put it on one strand at a time. I always subscribed to the toss-and-let-gravity-sort-it-out strategy.

Then there's the annual debacle of moving the furniture around so the tree fit just right. I know a piece gets moved out of the front room into the living area, but I have to have a hand-scripted map from Taylor's phone to remember how I do it properly.

There's the big red bell that hangs in the archway off the greenery decorating the molding.  I have a lot of things that go outside, but that may have to wait, too. King Bob and the minions are ripe for Christmas thieves.

Kelsey used to love hanging the ornaments and that will be incredibly difficult again this year, but we carry her in our hearts and we know she's here with us. My youngest daughter wasn't hell bent on anything, but the traditions of decorating the tree were not to be trifled with.

I love her for that. Despite my short attention span, that was one of my favorite things about her. Right next to sitting downstairs and hearing her sing in the shower upstairs.

The house is unbelievably too quiet now. That angel has to be singing in God's choir.

I wish she was here to wrap all the stuff in these boxes. I could pawn that off on her. I'm sure she'll be watching down and laughing her butt off as I wrinkle and rip and cuss and tape scraps of paper to cover holes - then unfold my legs and collapse on my back on the floor to let the blood flow again.

Taylor said she will have time to do my wrapping and hers (...whatever), bake for about 12 hours straight, and watch a list of about 20 movies all in the 48 hours she has before Santa comes.

At 29 she's still the oldest kid I think I've ever seen aside from my brother John. This girl will come into my room at 7 a.m. without fail so we can go downstairs to see what Santa brought. I know she still has trouble sleeping Christmas eve.

She tries to be an adult, but Lee and I know its fake. She's an adult in all the other realms of adulthood she needs to be "adulting" in, but when it comes to Christmas...she knows there's really a Santa Claus.

No matter what he does for the other 10 months and 23 days each year - he always delivers.

This year will surely be no exception. Delivering on Christmas is precious and detailed, secretive and beautiful.

Whether it's commercialized or traditional, it will always come from the heart. Anything else is quite simply - Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Christmas, Beside the Point, editorial, Sunday, gifts, family, spirit, boxes, wrapping, trees, lights, Pen City Current, opinion,


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