The first Christmas we had in our house, lo those many years ago, Nolan was not quite two, and I was pregnant with Ben.
Mr W was craaaazy that year, giant tree, loads of lights, he was practically bursting with good cheer. I remember being a little overwhelmed with his zeal, but it was so cute I couldn't rein him in.
Over the years, he continued to put up the lights, but his enthusiasm has waned recently, much in the way my enthusiasm for all things pizza-parlor-birthday-party-stop-those-screaming-kids has waned. I gently remind him two weeks before Christmas that maybe he should put some lights up, he does it, and we just ooh and ahh over whatever he puts up.
I wasn't sure why he'd gotten so 'eh' about his displays when he'd been so Griswold all those years ago. Last year he finally let on that he is tired of doing it all by himself and wanted us to help.
Granted, this was not an unreasonable request. However...he's a little...he can be...kinda militant about ordering us all around. I was out there playing peacemaker amidst all the cords.
He even went so far as to let Ben get up on the ladder. I told Mr W that if an ER trip came out of that, he was going to take it, and I held my breath. Ben did a great job, and he was so proud of himself that I stopped praying and patted him on the back.
And here we are again, it's the light time of year.
I prepped Mr W right before Thanksgiving: "Lights. I want my lights, and I want a lot of them. No haphazard, will-this-stay-on-through-Christmas strings, will-this-one-short-out-and-burn-the-bush ones, either. I want...I want you to be just as enthused about it as you were our first Christmas here." Without me prompting them, the kids started in on him too.
We have awakened the sleeping beast.
Mr W, who will not set foot in Target without a substantial bribe, especially this time of year, went and looked at lights. I think he started looking into them when I sent him out for some stuff for Nolan last week.
I tried to explain to him that Costco has better deals on them at lunch yesterday, but he was steadfast, told me to go into Target, what aisle I needed, and to check them out. Fine. "Look at the ornaments, too," he said. "Why?" "Well, I thought that maybe you might want to try something new." "But ours are fine, and I have all the ones the kids make every year." I am horrible when it comes to change--they're not broke. Why fix it?
Last night I dragged him to Costco and showed him my side of the story. Then he drove me to Target anyway, and showed me his. "Hey, you were right," he said, as he looked at the light boxes and mentally compared the two.
We started planning right there. Right as we were leaving, I remembered.
"What was that about the ornaments?"
He took me to the aisle, and after we contemplated tree skirts (I use an old red tablecloth, usually, I'm breaking down, no cats in the house anymore, I want a tree skirt this year), I asked him to show me what he wanted. "What is that you have in mind? Are you wanting like, department store tree, or just new ornaments?"
That man surprises me sometimes, he really does.
He went and started pulling out a box. "I like these."
They're rich red colors, magenta, ruby, darker; with gold on them. Pretty. We started matching up different sets to see what we liked, and I was impressed.
"Um, new ornaments? New lights? I'm sensing a pattern here, next thing you know, you'll be wanting to replace me, it's a matter of time," I joked.
He screwed up his face in an expression I've never seen before. I think it's a face I see on Audrey all the time--the little girl nose wrinkle/head shake, no small feat for a guy.
"Nooo, you're crazy," he said. I know he would've swooped on me, but we were in public, and he is a gentleman...
We started heading out and suddenly he turned and started looking for something else. I found myself in front of the extension cords and outlet extenders, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't start to worry. Clark is baa-aack.
There was a man standing with a cart and his wife right in front of where Mr W needed to be.
"Excuse me, sir," he said. They didn't move. He said it again, a little more barky, but still, "Excuse me, sir."
The man looked at Mr W blankly, but it changed to irritation once the words sunk in. I couldn't understand why, other than that the guy was right around the same age as Mr W, maybe he was offended by 'sir' the way some women are about 'ma'am', and I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't skip a beat, a little swoony with Mr W's manner.
On our way home, Mr W shook his head, "Did you see that guy look at me all irritated?" he asked. "I was surprised, considering that I wasn't trying to be rude."
I mentally recontemplated the man, who spoke like his head was full of syrup, had horrible feet (if you're wearing flip-flops, for the love of god, take care of your toes) and was accompanied by a woman in a black bra. How did I know this? Because she had on a thin pink tshirt. (A little bitchy there, Anna.)
I was about to share this with him, but instead, I found myself blurting out: "Honey. "Excuse me, sir" is not something people really say all the time anymore. No one really says that, except you! It's so Southern, so like your Dad! I think it's adorable that you are so unfailingly polite, but not everyone appreciates that."
I was grinning.
He might surprise me sometimes, but it's also nice that some things are constant.
Since last night, sugarplum ornaments dance through my head...maybe some change is good.