Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Competitive Christmas

No, the photo isn't my house. Sadly. It's a house down the street from me in Pimmit Hills. Every year it's gloriously tacky, a mixed message of Santas and Smurfs and an occasional helicopter. I love it.

When I was a kid Christmas decorating was a competitive sport. More than a competitive sport actually, sort of like a glittery version of ultimate fighting in Heitmuller Estates. My mother wielded a can of spray-on snow like a deadly weapon and my father spent hours on the roof with a hundreds of multi-colored lights and a staple gun.

Every Christmas Heitmuller Estates had a house-decorating competition. Despite the combined efforts of both of my parents, Trixie Herlihy always won first place. Trixie did things like wrapping her entire house in red cellophane with a big bow on top. The houses weren’t that big, but it still took a boatload of cellophane. So the next year my father put lights all along the peaks of the roof and all the eaves and he made reindeer out of plywood. Trixie had a nativity scene with live sheep. The annual Christmas rancor lived on

One December in the early 1960s my father was called to Florida when my grandfather had a stroke. So my mother decided that she and I were going to do the Christmas decorating on our own and this year she had the idea that was going to whip Trixie’s butt. My mother wanted to make our little rambler in Maryland look like a traditional New England house in the snow. So with masking tape we created panes on our big living room picture window. We used spray snow in a can to simulate the look of snow drifts in each of the “panes” and we used fishing line to hang ornaments in them. Then the pièce de résistance—she had seen it in a magazine—we glued cotton balls to the front door and sprayed them with glitter.

I don’t remember what Trixie Herlihy did that year, but she won again.

No comments:

Post a Comment