She said, He said

By Amanda Whitsitt, Executive Editor

Holiday Beanie Babies, fiber-optic angels and nativity scenes. When I see this stuff come out of boxes from the garage and into my parents’ humble abode, I know the holidays are beginning in full force. This décor-frenzy is a team effort but is mostly driven by my overzealous, holiday-loving mother.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about decorating for the holidays. But my mother – as well as women in general – tend to go a bit overboard when it comes to decking the halls. My idea of decorating my house for the holidays involves some festive window clings, a one-foot Christmas tree and a centerpiece for the coffee table.

My mom’s idea of décor is a little more overt than mine. The holiday Beanie Babies go on shelves in the china cabinet and on the tree, and fiber-optic angels go on top of the tree and on the coffee table – you get the picture.

My dad and my brother tend to help out with the more difficult decorating – decorating that involves climbing a ladder outside or working with complex electrical contraptions. But mom is ultimately in charge, and after the exterior of the house is satisfactorily decorated, the guys are pretty much done with their decorating tasks. They would much rather watch football than go hog wild with tinsel and lights, anyway.

My approach to holiday decorating is similar to the guys in my family: Get in, get it done and keep it simple. I like to get into the whole Christmas spirit just as much as the next person, but I guess I just don’t like to spend as much time on it as my mom does.

Men and women alike tend to relate to tangible things they can see and touch; this is probably why they tend to become wrapped up in the material aspect of the holidays. But the holidays are not about the decorations and the presents, or even about the special football games on TV, as people have been taught by holiday TV specials for years. The holidays are about spending time with loved ones and friends.

It’s OK to decorate the outside of the house with lights and put those special ornaments on the tree. But men and women should keep it in perspective: There are people who don’t even have a house to adorn with holiday decorations and people who don’t have enough money to give their family a fancy dinner with all the trimmings. This is worth remembering when stressing over the angel being crooked on top of the tree or the sweet potatoes being overdone.

By John Calkins, Managing Editor

Every year it seemed like the same Christmas story.

My mom/master amateur interior decorator/Christmas decoration procrastinator would refuse to put up Christmas decorations until about Dec. 18 or so – or maybe until she saw all the neighbors’ decorations, but you didn’t hear that from me.

My dad would just nod, his face filled with a not-surprised-at-all look as he walked to the garage to get the half-dozen or so cardboard boxes crammed with decorations.

And then … BOOM! – a Christmas explosion. My mom would transform our normal suburban-style house into Santa’s Workshop in a matter of hours: a mini-nativity scene on the table, some fake snow below a candy house on the counter, a tear-off-a-stocking-for-every-day-in-December calendar on the wall, a wreath on the door, a miniature ceramic Christmas tree with Lite Brite-style pegs on the cabinet and some weird multicolored plastic snowmen on the dresser.

And of course, Linda Rondstadt’s Merry Little Christmas CD would be blaring from the stereo speakers in the dim living room where only the lights from decorations were providing illumination.

Done, right?

Nope. Without fail, someone would wonder, “What about the outside of the house?” And this is where I will get to my point: When it comes to Christmas decorations, women should handle the inside and men should handle the outside. (Sounds like a man law, doesn’t it?)

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, or that women shouldn’t supervise, criticize and help design what the outside should look like – but I think it’s the men’s job to handle the grunt work. In other words, the roof is man territory.

This is even the case if said man lacks adequate carpentry skills. In fact, my dad would be the first to admit he’s no Bob Vila. But did that stop the legendary Christmas fanatic Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor? No, no it didn’t. It’s the men’s job to get it done – even if it ends in disaster or a trip to the emergency room.

Women may provide ideas, but without men, they’re only ideas. Last time I checked, nobody ever stopped to gaze at a house lit up by ideas. You remember that Christmas light sequence show video from last year? Well, I have absolutely no facts about it, but I’m pretty sure a man did that.

And that brings up another point: When men decorate, they should go as big as possible. For inspiration, look no further than another legendary Christmas fanatic: Christmas Vacation’s Clark Griswold. After Clark plugs in the Christmas lights, Aunt Bethany asks, “Is your house on fire, Clark?”

To this, Clark eloquently but forcefully asserts, “No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.”

That’s what I’m talking about.