I just haven’t had any Christmas Spirit this year. We’ve both been very busy, had an unexpected death in the family, and have sort of felt like doing Christmas stuff (decorating, etc.) was just Another Fucking Thing To Deal With™.
We weren’t unhappy about it or anything, but we don’t give gifts in our family, we aren’t religious, and with the kids out of the house, were just sort of treating Christmas like it was another day.
When I woke up this morning, though, something was different. Decorating for Christmas, and having a nice Christmas dinner with Anne and Nolan (Ryan’s out of town) became something I wanted to do, instead of something I felt like I was supposed to do, because Christmas.
I woke up about 2 hours before Anne, which is a Christmas Miracle in itself, and after she was sufficiently filled with coffee, I walked into the living room and sat down next to her.
“I have a thought,” I began.
“Uh-oh…” she said. I smiled.
“I know we haven’t felt like doing anything Christmas-y, but … I kind of want to just put up our tree, and a couple of decorations.” I said.
“I am so glad you said that,” she said, “because I woke up feeling exactly the same way. I think it would be really sad for Nolan to come over tomorrow, and we don’t have anything in our house that says ‘it’s Christmas! Yay!’”
“So how about if we go to the store, get some food for a quiet dinner tonight with just the two of us, and then get something for dinner tomorrow?”
“I’d love that,” she said.
So a few hours later, we went to the store, with everyone else in the world, and got some food for a nice, quiet, and dare I say ROMANTIC dinner tonight. We also decided to recreate our Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas dinner, because it was damn tasty.
We got home after a surprisingly relaxed shopping experience with everyone else in the world, and I said, “Mrs. Wheaton, would you like to share the joyous holiday tradition of walking into the backyard and getting the Christmas tree out of the shed?”*
“I would love that, Mister Wheaton.”
We walked up into the backyard, where I unlocked the shed, and began the traditional process of extricating the tree from where it lives 50 weeks out of the year. Along the way, I knocked over several cans of paint. Two of them cracked and dumped their contents all over the floor.
“Oh yeah!” I said, “Now it’s CHRISTMAS!”
“I’ll go get some paper towels…” Anne said.
Once we cleaned that up, we brought the tree into the house. I assembled it in the traditional Christmas way, and we stood back to look at it. We decided that it was good.**
I think the tree had been up for three minutes when our Cat, Luna, made some plans.
Literally seconds later:
Then Marlowe saw her, ran over to see what the heck was going on, scared the shit out of Luna, causing Luna to launch herself out of the tree, to be chased across the living room by the puppy.
With a cat-free tree, I took another picture:
The year we got the fake tree, I was filled with regret, because the house didn’t smell like Christmas at all. Ryan, who had just gotten his driver’s license, drove himself to the gas station, bought these air fresheners, and hung them on the tree for us. As moved and happy I was by his gesture, we had to hang them outside for about two weeks, because holy shit do those things have a pungent smell that is nothing like pine but is actually like radioactive death trees.
Anne and I hung more ornaments on the tree, and then we hung up a few — a very few — decorations around the house. Then, when we felt like we were done, I put Noel the Christmas Walrus on the tree to make everything official:
Then, I walked into the kitchen and saw that Luna was recovering from her adventure:
I turned on the broiler, seasoned the steaks we planned to have for dinner, and opened a bottle of wine. Anne came in and joined me.
“You know what,” I said, “I’m really, really happy.”
“I’m so happy that we decorated our house just a little bit, and put up a tree, because we wanted to, instead of doing it because we felt like we had to.”
“Yeah,” she said, “this is something we chose to do, and who cares if it happened the night before Christmas, instead of three weeks go?”
“I’m really glad we did this,” I said.
“So am I,” she said.
I leaned in and kissed her. “This feels like our first post-kids Christmas,” I said, “with just the two of us doing this because it was fun and festive for us.”
“Totally,” she said.
We looked at each other for a minute.
“I want to just check in with the kids,” I said.
She laughed. “Okay.”
I traded text messages with Ryan and Nolan, we wished each other a happy Christmas Eve, and then I got an idea.
“DUDE! I saw this on Tumblr a couple weeks ago, and I want to try it.” I ran to my office, while Anne stood, confused and confused***, in the kitchen. I grabbed my tripod and my camera.
I set it up in the living room, and I took some pictures:
I was pretty happy with the way the pictures turned out, and I came into my office to post them while Anne wrapped a couple of gifts for the kids****.
Then I rejoined her in the living room to take one more picture that would let us say Merry Christmas (or Happy Winter Festival of your choice) to all of you who are reading this, from us here on Team Wheaton:
Yeah, pictures with a puppy are pretty hilarious…
But Seamus can do a super good sit, and he wants you to have a Merry Christmas.
And so do I. I hope you spend the holidays with people you love, who love you back.
*A few years ago, we got a fake tree, because I am so stupidly paranoid about getting a real tree that somehow explodes into a fireball for some reason and ruins Christmas like a kid who points out that Grandma just said something that’s really super racist at Christmas dinner. Not that I know anything about that at all.
**I also realized that this one little bit of lights that never seemed to light up, even though all the wires checked out and all the bulbs were in place, didn’t light up because we never plugged it in. The plug was wrapped around itself in a way that just hid it, and I never saw it until tonight. I texted Ryan, “dude. I am amazing”, and told him the story. “Our family is so smart, and so dumb at the same time,” he replied. “THAT is Wheaton Thinking,” I said.
***And also confused.
****We don’t give gifts to each other. We do give a couple little things to the kids.