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Daddy Talk: Scroogin’ this Christmas

Since my kids are all in grade school and I myself am in my 40s, I believe I have gotten to the place where there ceases to be a magical, nostalgic feeling when I take the Christmas decorations out of the attic each year. Instead, unpacking the attic for me involves immediately testing all the strands of Christmas lights that I bought a year ago and finding that half of them no longer work.

Half of the strands get thrown away, and the other half get strategically wrapped around bushes or clamped together with zip ties and hung behind posts to hide the unlit portions. Strategy really is the key word here because as I hang these lights on the front of the house, I find myself dodging behind and out in front of shrubbery and crawling into precarious positions on the edges of the roof like some kind of military operation. Another part of the strategy is being as efficient as you can with the strands that you have so that you don’t have to go to the store to buy more lights, half of which will have stopped working next December.

Speaking of the problem of Christmas lights, an unfortunate habit we have is buying artificial “pre-lit” trees for our living room. Given the known lifespan of Christmas lights, we should expect that a pre-lit tree will only be fully lit for the first year, that some sections of the lights will be unlit in year two, and that by year three, we will find ourselves stringing other strands of lights onto the pre-lit tree (thus ensuring a trip to the store for more lights even if we somehow avoided this trip during the lights on the roof fiasco). In year four or five, we should expect to say, “To heck with this,” and buy a new pre-lit tree while commenting that we can’t believe we kept this thing for five years.

But back to the “Christmas spirit.” The landscape of Christmas ornaments is always changing as the kids grow up. In the early days, kids actually helped us get rid of decorations (by breaking them). The best example in our house was when Isaac, our oldest, was only a year old. We were completely naïve about kids and decorations. When I showed Isaac the hand blown glass Pittsburgh Pirates ornament that I had gotten as a gift from an aunt in Pittsburgh, he said, “Ball,” promptly grabbed it, and threw it against the wall, shattering it into pieces before I could even flinch. I really couldn’t blame him because it was shaped like a baseball.

Since those early days, however, the collection of Christmas tree ornaments has become eclectic. We have a few sets of traditional ball ornaments and ribbons. But now there’s that familiar stash of things-kids-made-at-school. Not sure what to do with those, but my wife tells the story that when she was a child her parents secretly got rid of them every year without any of the children knowing, preserving a nice, decent-looking tree that showed no signs that kids were in the house.

I also notice that we’ve retained all of the ornaments that were given to us before we were married or during the first year of our marriage. They hang as lovely artifacts of a bygone era that holds a cloudy place in our memories. There’s one of Santa smoking a cigar, and on the bottom, it’s written, “Merry Christmas, Tim! From your good friend, Ted.” I just can’t quite remember who Ted is, but he will live on through this ornament.

About The Author

Tim Krason

Tim Krason grew up in Tupelo, MS, and settled in the Jackson area after studying at Mississippi College. He has been married to Ashley for 10 years, and they live in Clinton with their three children. Tim teaches English at Hinds Community College in Raymond and has been writing the Daddy Talk column for several years.

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