It's finally time to admit that the holidays are over

January 12, 2002|By Rob Kasper

I ALMOST fell victim recently to a well-known Baltimore affliction.

The malady I am talking about is the reluctance to take down the decorations, to pull the plug on the outdoor light show, to admit that the holidays are over. This town is a hotbed.

Even now, six days after the Twelfth Night, the traditional time to fold up the festivities, you can spot a homeowner on almost any block who is in decoration denial.

An outbreak nearly got me the other day when I got mushy while dismantling this year's Christmas tree. The ornaments looked bright, gladsome, and evoked a flood of such warm memories. Why not prolong the season of goodwill a few more days, I thought. Then a hail of prickly pine needles hit me in the face and all sentiment was washed away. No more Father Christmas, I became the Mop-Up Man. Faster than you could say fa la la la la, I was yanking down decorations.

To the outsider, the signs of this refusal to say goodbye to the holidays are obvious. The Christmas tree is wilting in the window. The entrance to the house is covered with evergreen dandruff and ratty red ribbons. The outdoor lights that once made the homestead look "appropriately seasonal" now make it resemble a used car lot.

Yet as someone who in prior years has succumbed to this torment, I know those suffering from it are not often able to accurately assess their troubled state. What the afflicted regard as gushy holiday emotion, for example, is often seen by their neighbors as plain old laziness.

So as a public service, I have compiled a list of warning signs of this disorder, which I have labeled TTTDDD, or Time To Take Down the Damn Decorations syndrome. If you or a loved one recognize yourself in any of these examples, it is time to take action. Namely, get off your rear end, get out the ladder, and start yanking.

Warning Sign No. 1: You tell yourself that walking on dried-out pine needles is a clever way to make the living room smell better.

No. 2: You discover that "piece of abstract art" lurking in the corner of your dining room is really a dead poinsettia.

No. 3: Your neighbors start using your house as a landmark when giving directions, saying, "We are four doors down from the place that looks like Santa's Las Vegas bender."

No. 4: You start using your decorations as a landmark when giving directions.

No. 5: Pilots start using your house a landmark when circling BWI.

No. 6: After paying a whopping holiday power bill, all correspondence from BGE begins with the salutation, "Dear Most-Favored Nation."

No. 7: The minivans filled with wide-eyed kids gawking at your decorations have been replaced by Cavalier sedans manned by zoning workers scribbling furiously on their work sheets.

No. 8: Your postman starts wearing sunglasses and eye black to fight the glare from your house.

No. 9: Your house shows up on the evening news weather radar as "ground clutter."

No. 10: Those little green things in the dip at your Super Bowl buffet turn out to be pine needles, not dried oregano.

No. 11: Couples at your Valentine's Day party have to dance around the Christmas tree.

No. 12: The pizza delivery guy mistakes your "decorated" house for a Jiffy Lube.

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