Less of a Grinch this year

Happy Holidays! Though really, I celebrate Christmas at least as much as I celebrate anything else. By "celebrate Christmas," I mean that my family opens presents on Dec. 25. Somehow though, at school, my son, Silas, was able to amaze his teachers with his advanced knowledge of Hanukkah. Silas knew about the miracle of one day's worth of oil lasting for eight days and was even able to toss around terms such as "Maccabean Revolt." It was totally amazing. For a moment I thought Silas had channeled the spirit of his long-deceased Jewish great-grandfather. Upon intense after-school interrogation over some hot chocolate, I was able to extract that Silas had actually learned about Hanukkah from one of his morning cartoon shows. I always knew television must be educational.

Nickelodeon is probably the elementary school equivalent of listening to National Public Radio. My sister listens to NPR and openly admits that her favorite thing about listening to it is being able to say later, casually in conversation, "Well, I heard on NPR "…" Listening to NPR, according to my sister's theory, immediately makes everyone seem smarter and cooler.

I'm usually pretty low-key about Christmas. I buy some presents, and some years put up a tree, but that's about the extent of my holiday spirit. My excuse is that we usually end up at my parents' house for Christmas morning anyway, so why decorate both houses? This year, my parents have not only bought a tree, but decorated the outside of the house in lights as well (nothing that can be seen from space, but enough to please their grandchild). Sometime over Winter Break I'll probably make a batch of sugar cookies. I like cutting out the dough in shapes, decorating with frosting, and eating salmonella-inducing amounts of raw cookie dough.

This year, I actually bought a tree for my own house. I put it off at first, being anxious about the fact that I own cats and I knew, based on their level of destruction of my garbage cans, socks, and lamps, that a Christmas tree would be destroyed by tiny, velvety paws the second I turned my back. But finally, overwhelmed by comparisons to the Grinch, I decided to buy a Christmas tree. To avoid the merry mess-creating felines we decided just to put the tree in Silas' room and remember to keep the door shut.

So, after school one day Silas and I headed out to the Christmas tree lots on the north side of town. I had driven past these lots and seen what appeared to be small-sized trees, trees I felt like I could manage to bring up from the car, up the stairs and into Silas' room without too much difficulty. Unfortunately, up close, I realized that the "small trees" I had spotted from the road were actually the same height as me. I may be slightly shorter than the average American woman, but not dramatically so. I mean, I have to have my mom hem all my pants, but I don't have to special order anything online. The man working at the Christmas tree lot asked if I wanted him to carry the tree to my car. I quickly realized two things, I had just had my nails done (hey, these things don't French tip themselves!) and any attempt of my own to carry the tree from the lot to my car would end up on someone's camera phone and from there to America's Funniest Home Videos. I gratefully accepted the man's offer, wished him a happy holiday, and immediately started planning how I could fake illness on my front lawn until a neighbor would take pity on me and offer to carry the tree the rest of the way in. I heard on NPR that this is an effective way to get help.

Zoe Abel is busy hiding the tree decorations from the cats. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com

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