The Right Coast

December 21, 2004
Ho Ho Ho
By Tom Smith

I'm doing my best to get into the Christmas spirit, but it's not that easy out here in Jesusland. I knew I lived in Jesusland, but now it is official, as the pharmacist who lives at the entry to our development has erected a display of colored lights with multi-colored, 5 feet tall letters spelling, you guessed it, JESUS. It adds a real toniness to the neighborhood that I appreciate. After that, at the next house, you encounter a seven feet tall inflatable Santa, facing off with an equally large Frosty. I think the look kinda like professional wrestlers, but that's just me. The Santa Ana winds a week ago knocked them down, but unfortunately did not carry them away. I should look on the bright side. Walmart does not sell a life-sized, internally illuminated, self-inflating scene of Santa sitting in the outhouse, red pants around his ankles, going over his list of naughty and nice, while Mrs. Claus pounds franticly on the door. How do I know Walmart doesn't have one? Because if they did, someone around here would have it up in their yard. Let's just say, a quaint little village in the Austrian Alps at Yuletide, it ain't. But we have fewer Nazis, so perhaps it evens out.

I finally bought our Christmas tree last Saturday. I went to Target, that source of all things good and valuable, and there were a bunch of 8 foot firs looking pretty decent for the price. It was one of those fateful moments of decision. I could probably find something better if I was willing to brave the crowds of other driven tree-seekers at Home Depot. With my martial arts training, I was probably up to it. Or I could settle for the tree in front of me. I settled, and boy, was it the right decision. I set up the tree, secured it in place with some lines in case of earthquake, put some lights on it, and I must say, it looks very nice. When the kids got home we put some Christmas music on the stereo, and even 1 year old Mark got into the act of hanging ornaments (yes, he's a genius).

I left the lights on outside all night, too lazy to turn them off, and some miscreant threw eggs at our house. Jeanne found it creepy that someone bothered to come up our long driveway to throw eggs at our house. I on the other hand realize it is a normal stage, the pupal stage, of redneck development, before they move on to pickups, baseball bats and mailboxes. I was somewhat disturbed that our two labs slept through the whole thing. Now I'm thinking, big German Shepherd. Our labs sound fierce, but the only danger they pose is licking someone to death.

I assume my secret is safe with you, so I will let on that I'm getting my lovely wife Jeanne some nice presents. Two nice cop-r-chef All Clad pots to add to her collection. She is a serious cook, which makes finding presents easier, as kitchens are a gear-lover's dream. I also couldn't resist a set of the newfangled laser-etched, micro-plane graters, said to go through a chunk of Parmasean like a hot knife through butter. And, I'm especially proud of the set of Cold Steel kitchen knives I found on the internet. As some of you will know, Cold Steel specializes in weaponry, and based on their dedication to quality and innovation in things like combat hatchets, must be run by a bunch of very strange people. They make kitchen knives as a sideline; their real passion are things like combat-quality katanas. Thus you can get very high quality kitchen knives from them at a very low price, compared to the prestige German or Japanese brands, where you are buying partly the name and fighting the weak dollar. True, with their non-slip rubber handles, the Cold Steel knives are kinda ugly compared to the German knives, but there's something to be said for pure, American functionality, not to mention paying a quarter of the price.

At Mass last Sunday, the ever cheerful Mark (age 1, as I said) let out a window-rattling belch that cracked up about 25 percent of the worshippers. He makes me very proud. Farmers decided to pay $1600 of the $4500 in damages caused by a recent water heater flood, and that came as a pleasant surprize, since I was sure they would just deny the claim and cancel my policy. In putting up the tree, I moved a chair in the living room and discovered 11 year old Patrick's horde. As I may have mentioned, he is the offspring to whom I owe $400 and who is charging me a weekly rate of interest. He had about $600, including many faux-gold Sacajawewa dollars, packed in a little wooden chest, pirate style, hidden under the chair. Now I have to go before Biscuit and Denali scare the UPS guy to death.