It’s February. Our Christmas garland is still hanging on our front porch.
Ever see the Everybody Loves Raymond episode titled “Baggage” (season 7)? In it, Ray and Debra return from a weekend trip and temporarily leave their suitcase on the staircase landing. Weeks pass with them both refusing to carry it the rest of the way, believing it is the other’s responsibility.
Their suitcase = our garland.
Everything else in our house Christmas related is packed away—the indoor decorations, the tree, the outside lights, the taped-to-the-bookcase Christmas cards—everything.
Except the garland.
Andy graciously, selflessly and in only a slightly (mostly) Grinch-like manner hung all the outdoor lights and garland. “It’s for the kids,” I told him when I handed him our new Dyno Seasonal Solutions St. Nick’s Choice Professional Pole for Hanging Lights, 16-Feet, which I ordered on Amazon this year.
I, in turn, took over all the indoor decorating.
After Christmas, I put away all the indoor decorations.
He took down and put away the Christmas lights but for some inexplicable reason, not the garland.
When I remind him of what he’s done and what I’ve done in regards to why he should take down and put away the garland, he’s quick to point out how he carried all the large Christmas bins all the way down from the attic.
I then remind him that I’m the one who shoved all the too-small clothes and extra hangers and beach towels out of the way on the attic stairs, creating a path so he didn’t fall and die. And then I remind him how I’m always the one to create stair paths all the time and it’s something no one gives me credit for, ever.
THEN he brings up the tree. The tree he says he had to trim in the house because I always pick one that’s much too tall, which I say he wouldn’t need to trim in the house if he had a better understanding of how tall our entryway is when we’re out in the field. THEN he says every year he’s the only one who does the lights and then I remind him that he doesn’t let anyone else do the lights because we don’t “push them in far enough” or something along those lines. AND THEN he says the kids help both of us hang up the ornaments so I shouldn’t get credit for that. “Help,” I say. “Yes, they help.”
Every weekend we make an idealistic to-do list of which we accomplish about 20 percent, on average. Every weekend since January 1 “take down the garland” has been on the to-do list and yet it never gets taken down.
Some days it was -5°. I get that. No one should be taking down garland in -5° weather. But this Saturday, it was 56°.
“If you want it taken down so badly, take it down,” he says, reminding me of how he took the tree out to the curb on our town’s tree recycling day, carried the decoration boxes back up to the attic and took down all the outdoor lights.
And then I remind him how I made our Christmas card list, updated all the addresses, ordered the cards from a friend, addressed and mailed them. I remind him how I did 95 percent of the Christmas shopping and 98 percent of the Christmas wrapping. (He reminds me of the “help” I had wrapping from the kids.)
And round and round and round we go.
And there our garland sits, for all to see, 40 days after Christmas.
“It’s growing on me,” he says. “I kind of like it.”
“We are that house!” I say. “We are totally that house.”
“So TAKE IT DOWN,” he says.
“It’s YOUR JOB!” I say.
And round and round.
I let him read this. “This isn’t even a fight!” he says adding something about “understating my arguments” and then adding something about how “it’s not even an argument.”
“Then what should I call it?” I say, changing the title from “The Garland Fight” to “The Garland.”
“A standoff. But it’s not even that! I just haven’t gotten around to it.”
“So … tomorrow?” I ask.
“Maybe,” he says.
“In the early years, you fight because you don’t understand each other. In the later years, you fight because you do.” —Joan Didion