This is How We Settle Debates Around Here

Though we are three years into this whole Parenting at Christmas Gig, Mr. Husband and I continue to find that we don't exactly see eye-to-eye on how various traditions should go. Half of the problem is that we grew up in vastly different environments. The other half of the problem is that one of us is a Christmas Nut while the other could do without the six Christmas trees.

Blasphemy, I say.

Last year we got into quite the debate over whether or not Santa wraps his gifts. I even asked y'all what you thought. I learned a very valuable lesson from that one--people feel very strongly about their wrapping paper, yo. I totally understand because there was NO WAY I was going to be deprived of wrapping more gifts. Wrapping gifts is my Christmas crack and I'm NOT going to rehab. Mr. Husband and I ended up sort of compromising in that I let him assemble all the Santa toys and remove them from their packaging and then I used wrapping paper that only Santa would buy. It was slathered with the Dora the Latina Whore's face. 75% of you approved.

This year, we have found another point of contention. I don't remember the specifics of how it all came together, but apparently we were home on Christmas morning last year. That's pretty unusual since we're usually on the road visiting family. This year we'll be back to the norm, so the question came up: Does Santa deliver to the house or to the place where we are staying?

Now, there are a whole bunch of other factors that I think sway this whole debate in a particular direction, but I'll save them until y'all have told me what you think. And . . . GO!

Pssst . . . Don't forget, if you've seen some Christmas Crazy (lights that caught your attention, a "scene" that kids created, some serious anal retentive decor of any kind, etc.), please post it to your site and sign the Mr. Linky on December 20th. Or, if you don't have a blog, you can email me photos at burghbaby (at) and I'll post them here.


Her First Letter to Santa. *Sniff, Sniff*

We hadn't even been in our seats long enough to open our menus when he trounced over to our table. "Hi, there!" he enthusiastically said to Alexis. "We have a mail box for Santa over by the door. Did you see it?" he paused momentarily, but not really long enough for anyone to respond. "If you fill this letter out for Santa and put it in the mailbox, he might send you something!" With a flourish, the Bob Evans manager handed Alexis' a piece of paper and flittered away.

He was so enthusiastic that we couldn't really ignore his request. Once we had placed our brinner order, Mr. Husband set to helping Alexis write the letter. "What do you want for Christmas?" he asked.

For months, that question has elicited the same response. "A Princess ball!" she will exclaim. Santa was kinda liking this thing where the kid only wanted a $6 ball, except that he couldn't seem to figure out where she saw the one that she wanted. Santa might be losing his mind over THAT minor detail. So, he was a bit relieved to hear that Alexis had come up with a brand spanking new answer this time around. "A guitar and a microphone!" she said.

The not yet four-year old carefully set out to draw the letters as Mr. Husband spelled the words for her. Until she got to her name, that is. She didn't need help with that part.

Before she could finish, the very excited manager stopped by again. "Oh! Look! You're working on your letter! When you are finished, I'll help you take it to Santa's mailbox!" he exclaimed. The Real Santa was starting to wonder if the manager was working on some sort of Santa Letter commission as he seemed to be doing nothing but flittering from kid to kid pimping for that mailbox. The Real Santa thought maybe some drink refills would be nice.


When all was said and done, there was a carefully crafted letter in Santa's box. Alexis had managed to write all but two of the characters all. by. herself.

The Real Santa was so proud he rushed to the computer when he got home and ordered that guitar and microphone. Now Santa just has to figure out where the heck the kid saw that very specific Princess ball.


He May Not Know He Made Me Smile Every Year, but He Did

If you had ever driven past the house during the holidays, you would have remembered it. The house wasn't notable because of the quantity of lights adorning its exterior or because their placement was particularly attractive. It wasn't even the kind of lights display that you would tell people you had seen. Rather, it was . . . eccentric.

You would have noticed the giant stuffed Santa wrapped in a cocoon of weather-proofing plastic. You would have noticed the plywood sleigh holding the fat guy that could have easily passed as a half-assed treehouse. You certainly would have taken note of the awkward homemade lit reindeer. Given enough time, you might have figured out that what was "off" about them was that they had long tails like a German Shepherd. Once you noticed that, you would have debated whether they actually were deer, or if those were giant dogs lined up and pulling the treehouse/sleigh.

You would have tried to figure out the reasoning for the placement of the strings of icicle lights. Some of the strands were all white, some were a rainbow of colors, but all hung in seemingly random ways. They were strewn at an oddly low yet high height in the tree branches. Other strands had been used to create a curtain of light surrounding the perimeter of the yard. No matter how many times you drove past the house, you never would have found any logic in the glowing orbs.

The first few times I drove past the house, I laughed at the tacky display of Christmas cheer. I openly mocked the insanity of it all. It was the very definition of Christmas Crazy.

The chuckles stopped the first time I saw him--the homeowner. One day I noticed him as I drove past the cacophony of decorations. He stood atop a wobbly old ladder, carefully tugging on a strand of lights that had become twisted in the wind. He was all of five feet tall and couldn't have weighed more than a buck ten, even soaking wet. His dark skin proudly bore the hundreds of badges of honor it had earned over the years in the form of wrinkles.

I asked a friend who had lived in the neighborhood for decades about the old man. "He's been doing that display since my daughter was Alexis' age," she said. Alexis was two at the time, and the daughter was in her 30's. A few other details helped piece together the puzzle and it became clear that the man was easily in his 80's.

We drove past the house tonight and for the first time in the ten years we've lived in Pittsburgh, there were no lights in the yard. There were no crazy reindeer. There was nothing but blackness enveloping the strange cars in the driveway and the newly landscaped yard.

I can only imagine what has happened to put an end to the memorable display of cheer. I know, however, that whoever that man was who spent hours each year putting together the eccentric collection of glowing holiday joy, he made a difference.

I will remember him.