The Bucket Shrub

Sucking The Life Out Of The Holidays

My husband found four shrubs and a palm tree by the side of the road. Well, it’s not really a palm. It’s some kind of giant fern with a weird (PORN NAME ALERT!) hairy trunk. And it’s like four feet tall except now it’s dead. Or maybe it’s just resting, what do I know about plants?

We have some neighbors who have a lawn care business and generally leave the carcasses of shrubs and other assorted flora in the Designated Trash Spot which is the fence at the culvert. This is the best place in Memphis to find and leave Stuff. Chuck and his friend Alan hauled out our busted washing machine a few months ago and by the time they’d finished a beer to reward themselves for the manly job they’d done, the sucker was gone. I once saw this great end table and by the time I circled back around to pick it up, it was gone. I saw a middle aged woman in a Mercedes sedan try to pick up two club chairs and put them in her trunk. It’s like the FAO Schwarz of junk. On Black Friday.

I don’t know why these particular plants were put out to pasture. They were all healthy. The four shrubs have been sitting in their pots in front of Chuck’s garden forming a nice hedgerow. But it’s Christmas and I’m Southern. By law, I must decorate the house in some fashion. Usually, I just put a ribbon around a bottle of Jim Beam and call it a day. This morning I stuck a shrub in the ice cream freezer.

Part of Chuck’s dowry was a White Mountain ice cream freezer. You know the one. Wooden bucket, loud motor. He comes from a big ice cream-making clan, but that’s another post. Believe me. I really liked the bucket and being a gal on a budget, I stuck it at my front door and threw some greenery in it. It looked really cool. Then, of course, I let the greenery turn brown. You’ll know my house by the ice cream freezer full of sticks decorating the front porch. Oh, and spring before last a squirrel nested in it. So that was nifty.

But this morning I looked at the pumpkins (from his garden, thankyouverymuch) and frost-bitten croton and thought, damn. I should be embarrassed. I mean, I’m not. But I should be. So I grabbed a shrub, threw out the nest and the pumpkins, and now my porch is about a quarter of the way to being festive. I’m going to hang some glass balls on my bucket shrub. Maybe put a wreath on my door. OBVIOUSLY, I will be putting Fernando The Yard Flamingo in his Santa outfit. By that point I’ll be exhausted and need to recouperate by watching Love Actually for the 4,593th time. And I’ll probably require a cheeseburger.

Then I’ll wait with a finger or two of bourbon for a really pissed off squirrel to come banging on my door wanting to know how in the hell I thought I could evict him without proper legal notice.

Blanche

this christmasPeople think that if you don’t work outside the home, all you do is lie around and eat bonbons and watch stories. First? There’s only like one soap opera left on TV. Second? I prefer Cheetos. There’s so much to do around the house even now that both Girl Child and Boy Child are out of the house. Chuck and I were both sick during Thanksgiving, and I’d just had enough of walking through the living room thinking about how it really needed to be dusted. So I hired an imaginary maid, Blanche.

Blanche came highly recommended from the tap instructor of my imaginary twins Sizzlene and Formicadinette. But it’s been a while since I’ve managed people, and I guess I’m out of practice. So here’s a thing. I said to her yesterday, I said, “Blanche, that Christmas tree isn’t going to decorate itself.” And she, cheeky thing that she is, said to me, “Missus, CTFO and drink your bourbon.” Now, I was totally on board for the latter, but I had to call a teenager to ask what a CTFO was. And I’ll just say this, I’m very hot-natured so I thought that was kind of nice.

We’re going to get that damn tree up today. Or maybe tomorrow. Point is, we’re getting that damn tree up. Just a little while ago while she was admonishing me for not polishing the silver more regularly and with more vigor, I told her I thought it would be nice if we had a fire in the fireplace. Actually, I was back in the bedroom going through the pockets of every jacket I own to find a freaking tube of Burt’s Bees or Lip Smackers or any of the 5,930,372 tubes of lip stuff I KNOW I own but can’t ever find, and she was in the dining room doing whatever it is maids do in dining rooms. So I called to her. I said, using my outside voice, “BLANCHE! FOR GOD’S SAKE GO PULL THAT LIMB THAT FELL SATURDAY OFF THE CARPORT ROOF AND START A FIRE!” Well, then I hear my text alert and was about to ignore it like I normally do, but I was hoping to hear from my friend who was having silicone injected into her earlobes today. She has always had the most leaf-like lobes. Just weird and thin and, well, unattractive. But it was Blanche! blanche

Can you believe that? Part of her contract is that SHE does my pedicures every Wednesday. I can’t believe she forgot that’s tomorrow. Much more of that and she can just go back to cleaning floor wax out of shoe taps.

Briefly: Holiday Sickness Version

jingle deezI’m just going to bitch a minute. Sit down. Have a drink. Join me.

Have you ever been sick, but not really SICK SICK, but miserable-no-energy-totally anti-social-because-no-one-should-have-to-be-around-you sick? I’ve been that way for the better part of a month now. I’m down to just an slightly unnerving dizziness and some kvetching, which is an improvement over last week when I didn’t even have the energy or desire to complain about anything other than people who jump the light at the Greenline crosswalk on Graham. And that barely counts.

Some people like to be tended to when they’re sick. I like to be left the hell alone. So, in that sense, it’s no different than when I’m well. And I glare at people the same way sick or not. I enjoy being brought the occasional cup of tea or getting the odd neck massage, but other than that you better run for the hills because when I feel bad I start to cry. A lot. And no one needs to see that. No one.

I would like to be one of those girls whose tears are made of morning dew and whose little chapped red button nose only adds to her adorableness. The girl who always has men giving her handkerchiefs. Hell, I would like to be the kind of girl who’s around men who still carry handkerchiefs. And drink whiskey neat. And wear hats. Oh, wait. I’m married to one of those men.

Anyway, all of this is to say my annual debate with myself about decorating the house for Christmas has begun. I like decorating the house. I just don’t like the taking down part. Maybe I need to find a taker downer whose OCD manifests itself by the need to wrap tiny ornaments in bubble wrap? You know anyone like that? Generally I cave and give my family the following admonishment:

You are NOT to enjoy these decorations. You are not to look at them. If you do not participate in the decorating or clean up, you do not get to bask in the glory of a well-decorated Christmas tree and sideboard draped with evergreen swag. These decorations are purely for MY enjoyment and that of our guests should I actually get around to inviting anyone over. Should you be witnessed deriving any joy from these decorations, you will be eating left-over creamed beef surprise for A MONTH. A MONTH.

That works about as well as asking a toddler not to run around with his diaper on his head. Or hammering Jello to a tree. Fortunately, I’ve given up Pinterest so I don’t have to see pictures of Super Woman’s perfectly decorated mantle, kitchen, SUV, bedroom, tree house,  and dog trot. Nor do I have to endure any cute ideas about what to have that creepy Elf on the Shelf dude do. 

My neighbor has kept her Christmas tree up for sixteen years. Her tree can drive. Next year it will be able to go to an R rated movie alone. Hers used to be the first Christmas card we got every year, but I think she’s realized she’ll never get on in return so, you know, she can save that one for her chiropractor. I’m thinking of designing some cards for those of us who like the idea of sending holiday greetings, but don’t want to be merry about it. And perhaps a combination holiday card slash get well. The holidays make everyone sick in one way or another. As a bonus? This project requires neither the wearing of pants or the application of concealer. SOLD.