Christmas News in Interesting Times

Y’all, the above statement is true, but it’s also true that we live in interesting times this holiday season, whether we’re beach dwellers or not.

Case in point: I enjoy the movie A Christmas Story, especially Ralph’s narration (e.g., “Oh, rarely had the words poured from my pen and pencil with such feverish fluidity,” and “In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenity that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan”). So I find it fascinating that now, not only can you tour the actual house used in the movie (located in Cleveland), but you can also rent it for a night. Several sources are reporting the nightly fee is $3,000, which I found fascinating in an I-didn’t-see-that-coming sense. However, because I am nothing if not thorough, for fun I tried putting a couple of different nights in my cart (one in December of ’18 and one in December of ‘19) and found that the actual rates were around $1,000 a night. Just saying.  As a less costly alternative, the Bumpus House (remember the next door neighbors and all their mayhem-causing hounds) is also available, minus the hounds; guests can rent either half the house or the whole thing, with rates starting at $195 a night. Let’s all stop and imagine, for a minute, a Christmas getaway, or any kind of getaway really, at the Bumpus House.

These are strange times, my friends, times I never knew I’d live to see.

In other news, this is a good week to spot a comet with your naked eyeballs, if that’s something you’d like to do. Comet 46P/Wirtanen is reportedly (my own eyeballs haven’t seen it yet) green, special-like for the holidays. Sunday night, December 16, was the night it was closest to the earth, but experts assure us that if you are committed, naked eyeball sightings are still possible throughout the week. No word on why they can’t give all comets simpler names, like they do with hurricanes (Irma, Matthew, or Stan, for instance).

Here’s a growing trend I love: putting real Christmas trees out on the base of coastal dunes after Christmas is over. I’ve seen this done many times on our islands as a way of building up dunes that have eroded from summer storms and northeasterlies. The branches hold in wind-blown sand and provide nutrients for the dune vegetation. This will be especially awesome this season after so much of the Carolina coastline took a hit from Hurricane Florence. Check out Coastal Review Online and this video from Surfrider Foundation in Carolina Beach, North Carolina to see how it’s done.

Finally, this year, my tree topper, the tree beads, and many ornaments went MIA (one box never made it out of storage we think), so I decided to change things up a little. Instead of beads, I purchased ribbon to use in their place. My problem, however, manifest itself in two parts. One, I can only craft in my head. Nothing attractively crafted ever makes it from my brain into the real world.  Two, in an attempt to remedy this inadequacy, I decided to watch videos on how to ribbon-dress a tree. This was like opening up Pandora’s box of anxiety. Early on, I learned you need layers of different kinds of ribbons, which I didn’t have. Then, I was shocked to discover that sophisticates don’t wrap the ribbon in circles around the tree; they cut large pieces of ribbon and loop them through the branches, letting them somehow take on a natural, organic, and yet artistic shape. Honestly, I thought this was stupid at first, something only people with perfect children and too much time on their hands would do. But then the experts started throwing out the term “tree goals” like they are actual things you should have. And they went on with all this stuff about “it’s important to add depth and interest to your tree” (Wait. What are those?), and “If you are ready to have an actual grown-up tree,” and suddenly there I was, cutting and looping and crying, because who doesn’t want to be a grown-up, and also because my loops didn’t look natural, organic, or artistic. They just looked like loops, and they don’t match my tree skirt.

Ah, well. I’m sorry to report that we are now living with a pseudo-grown-up tree that isn’t coordinated and that looks a little—well, loopy.

I told you we live in interesting times.

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