In the Spirit

This time of year, any discussion of holiday traditions should come with a warning label. After all, friends, relatives and especially neighbors might not take your favorites as seriously as you do. They may be more into roasted chestnuts than rum-soaked eggnog. Is there a line out there in the snow that shouldn’t be crossed?

It’s really not for me to say. Who am I to decide how many (thousand) decorative lights are tacky or acceptable? What neighborhood doesn’t want to bask in a flashing, multicolored glow that’s visible from outer space?

If anything, I’ve come to deeply believe that those holiday staples on the outer edge are probably the best ones and, if anything, deserve to be defended.

So, you don’t collect salt and pepper shakers shaped like barnyard animals? Saving the box and passing them on to a more farm-friendly pal, or anyone you know for that matter, isn’t tacky at all. Come on, that’s just being thrifty.

Artificial Trees
There’s nothing tacky about an artificial Christmas tree. Ours came pre-lit and had built-in ornaments already hanging. I can literally set it up during timeout of a football game. I plug it in and the memories come flooding back. I quietly savor that sentimental Christmas tree feeling – until the commercials are over and the game comes back on. Right now, it’s standing in the corner of the basement under a giant garbage bag, ready to go. That’s not tacky, that’s efficient.

Santa Neckties
Who doesn’t love to see Santa fishing? Who doesn’t get a kick out of Santa golfing or Santa on the riding lawn mower? That is great stuff! Think of the laughs around the coffee machine. If you wear a Santa tie, that might be the funniest you are all year. That’s not tacky, that’s entertainment.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters
See if you can spot what is really tacky here. The planning meeting went something like this:
Me: Let’s have an Ugly Christmas Sweater Day!
Co-worker: I don’t know if I have one.
Me: You could wear that electric red one that has the tree with the little bells that jingle when you walk.
Co-worker: That’s my favorite sweater. My grandmother gave it to me.
Me: Hey, look at the time. I think I have a conference call.

Giant Inflatable Lawn Ornaments
I’m talking about the six-footers with lights and things blowing around in their stomachs like a snow globe. Nothing says holiday spirit like five or six of these on a front lawn – in July. That’s not tacky. That, my friend, is commitment.

Gift Receipts
Picture the Three Wise Men in the manger with Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. They’re opening gifts. They love the gold, of course, and the frankincense is always a nice touch, thank you. But as great as it is, the myrrh just doesn’t go with any of the myrrh they already have. So, Mary asks the Third Wise Man if he got a gift receipt with the myrrh, and of course, being wise, he has one and gives it to her. It could have happened. Would that have been tacky? How about practical? After all, what are they going to do with extra, non-matching myrrh?

They could always regift it, I guess.

by Mike Rusinko, illustrations by Mary Ellen Gutknecht

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