It Starts with Rubber Pumpkins
It’s Fall. Finally. Life slows down. Chores like mowing lawns, trimming shrubs, and washing cars are temporarily suspended–not that I ever do any of those things, mind you, but I always (sometimes) feel guilty about it, which, now that I think about it, is, in itself, hard work. So, just when I think I’ve made it home free, that I just might get out of this year alive, it hits me that the Holidays are right around the corner. They come furiously, one after the other, starting shortly after Columbus Day (which, when you think about it, really isn’t the true “Columbus Day,” because we don’t actually celebrate the actual day Christopher Columbus discovered America, probably because he didn’t actually do it on purpose) and ending with New Year’s Day, when one is able to collapse into one’s Barcalounger and slip into a well-deserved catatonic coma watching football. In short, the whole holiday season is just one cruel joke on me. Slack off for nine months, and work my tail off (relatively speaking) for three.
There’s so much to do, and I’m not used to that. Halloween candy to buy for little trick-or-treaters. Thanksgiving dinner to plan for and cook, which means there’s a devastated kitchen to clean afterwards. And then…there’s Christmas, the mother of them all. Every year, I hack my way through the crowds at the mall to buy gifts for people who probably won’t appreciate them anyway, which is entirely my fault, because I always wait until Christmas Eve to start my shopping. Speaking of which, one would think that waiting until the last minute would allow one ample time to decide on that perfect gift for that special someone whose name one has drawn in the company’s Secret Santa lottery. But, alas, I’m always derailed by last-minute sales. Any ideas I had about that perfect gift fly right out the proverbial window when I spy socks and underwear marked seventy-five percent off.
With everything else demanding my attention, I’ve never bothered with decorating for the holidays; there’s no way I can come up with anything worth ooh-ing and ahh-ing over, which is, let’s face it, the goal of every serious artiste. At any rate, by the time I got them up, it would be time to take them down. But I’ve always admired those people who could come up with beautiful, Macy’s-like displays. They seem like such fun people. Happy people. People who enjoy life to the fullest and put their elbows into living it. All I’ve ever done for Halloween is buy candy and turn on the porch light, and it’s all I can do at Christmas to put up a tree, pre-packaged and pre-lit as it is.
So, wanting to be one of those happy, live-life-with-gusto people, this year I’ve decided to do something different, something I’ve never attempted to do before. Rather than futilely fight to defend hearth and home from the onslaught of holiday madness, I’m going to invite it in for coffee. I’m going to cross enemy lines, turn to the dark side. Or as my husband says, I’m going to succumb to the “materialistic commercialization” of what would normally gently fade away if you’d just leave it alone. (Bless his heart…it’s always a long three months for him.) Last weekend, I went out and bought some fall decorations. Yes, Fall Decorations. For the house. Where I live. I know. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t been there. As a result, I will have poking out of my shrubs a scarecrow-on-a-stick, and I will have sitting on my porch a realistic, hard-to-tell-from-the-real-thing, rubber-ish Jack-o-Lantern, lit from within by a tiny little light bulb that runs off three double-A batteries. How cool is that?! No carving out the icky, slimy guts of a real pumpkin, no newspaper getting soggy with pumpkin blood, and no cutting myself with the knife creating eyes, noses and toothy grins, which is important, because apparently I cannot get around any blade at all without nearly amputating a finger.
I’m encouraged when I think that what is pretty pathetic this year may be the foundation of something perfectly semi-adequate for next. I’m finally putting into practice that which I have always suspected: the holidays are exactly what you put into them. Contribute enthusiasm and childlike eagerness, get back joy. Put in effort and thoughtfulness, get back joy. Add a little free spirit and undaunted passion, get back joy. It’s a win-win. Scarecrows-on-sticks and rubber pumpkins are not going to win any “best holiday yard” contests, but one cannot deny what they represent. The people in this house are fun people. Happy people. People who enjoy life to the fullest.
Well, maybe not yet, but there’s always next year.