Married to a Christmas Nut
By Anthony Buccino
Her classroom makes 'season's greetings' cards pale by comparison. She has a Christmas scene painting nine feet wide and four feet tall that one of 'her kids' made.
At the end of November, my plain, normal, ordinary English teaching wife went mad. She whistled tunes about a fat guy, deer that stand in the rain and told me not to be naughty because I was being watched.
She cluttered the breakfast table with holly until I could not find my cereal bowl. Eggnog filled each and every shelf in the refrigerator and all my root beer had been banished to the pantry. I awakened to smell the chestnuts.
It was too late to change her or find a cure, I married a Christmas Nut!
As soon as I forked down the last slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie into my gullet and licked the plate clean of whipped cream, she began pleading with me to take her to the Town Pub to see their yearly Christmas decorations.
I shuddered at the thought of what would happen when she finally wore me down.
The folks at the Town Pub smiled when we entered but I sensed their apprehension of what she'd do. Her eyes brightened and her jaw dropped when we walked into the dining room. Lights were strung across the ceiling, down walls, behind specialty beer mirrors and across cash registers.
In every other place lights twinkled challenging the Great White Way. Wreaths of berries and pinecones of every size competed for attention.
Evergreen pervaded the haze of afternoon cigars. Plastic Santas stared from points of prominence and a sign on a big bag of wrapped gifts read, "Do not open 'til Christmas."
I guided her to an empty seat but she could not sit. "I'll nail your shoes to the floor if you touch one piece of tinsel," I whispered behind a smile.
"That wreath is a little crooked," she said, starting to rise to it.
"Look, if they wanted Oleg Cassini or Laura Ashley to help them get Christmas spirit, they would have called them to Bloomfield.
She settled back into her chair and passed the night in wide-eyed appreciation of the season. She would need the winter recess to get that look off her face.
Her 125 students had it much worse than me. They began their Christmas projects before their turkeys were in the oven.
"Prewrite, write, rewrite. How many reindeer does Santa have?
"A noun is a person, place or thing. A stocking is a thing. Stocking is a noun. How many presents will fit into a stocking before it falls off the mantel? Mantel is a noun.
"Class, your essay today will be on the best Christmas gift you've ever given someone."
And so on until the children are finally spared by Christmas holiday.
Her classroom makes "season's greetings" cards pale by comparison. In it she has a Christmas scene painting nine feet wide and four feet tall that one of 'her kids' made.
Whether or not there was room for more decorations, there was also a green paper tree seven feet high, and two dozen bells, angels, poinsettias and holly wreaths.
When the principal said her room was attractive, he was calculating the cost of custodians' overtime to get back to the bare bulletin boards. And another thought struck him as he wondered if he would ever find the door back to the hallway.
The last time I found the door in our apartment, we spent a week one night driving all around town to find just the right tree to squeeze back through a doorway half its size. My wife did the pointing and I did the lugging.
Once the tree was secured in the tin watering stand, I held the ornament box while she did the hanging. I tried to help her fill bare spots.
Her favorite way to pass an evening is to turn off all the house lamps and stare at tiny blinking lights hidden in the pine needles and tinsel on our live tree.
No matter how perfect I think the tree is, she can always find the one ornament she had the lapse in judgment to let me hang while she sipped eggnog in another room.
When she reassigns mine, it knocks all of hers out of sync. She could kill a whole night because of my help. Even at that, she spends hours every night trying to get the light and sparkle 'just right.'
The only thing worse than all the decorating is shopping in crowds of people who, like myself, shop only one month a year.
I drove my wife to every store she could think of, but she still could not find every thing she needed to finish shopping before Thanksgiving.
She said it was my fault that she didn't have all her shopping done before the seasonal procrastinators. She wondered what she had gotten into when she married me.
"You have as much interest in shopping as a log does," she cursed me.
I knew she would fall flat any second. How long could such a tiny tiger keep up this pace? "What a match we make," I said, "the Christmas Nut and the Christmas log -- "
She looked about to strike.
" -- we could do wonders by a fireplace."
She smiled, took me up on my idea, and Christmas has never been the same.
First published in The Independent Press of Bloomfield on Dec. 22, 1977
Ornamental Disorder, 11/92 - New Jersey Monthly.
Adapted from Greetings from Belleville, New Jersey, Collected writings by Anthony Buccino - on Amazon
Appears in A FATHER'S PLACE An eclectic collection
Copyright © 1977-2012 by Anthony Buccino. All rights reserved.
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino published eighteen books. His stories of the 1960s earned a 2011 Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism award. His transit writing on NJ.com earned a 2010 SPJ Excellence in Journalism award and two 2014 SPJ Excellence in Journalism awards. The Pushcart Prize-nominated writer has been called ' “New Jersey’s ‘Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’
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