Welcome back from the Holidays. In between wondering why your brother is such an unbelievable dick and is your sister really that big of a twat, I hope you had a good time. And yes, incase you are wondering, your mom did wonder “Gee, you really shouldn’t eat that last piece of pie because you are so fat and fat people have high blood pressure, good lord you are trying to kill yourself, it’s time for an intervention, get the Box O Wine.”
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with your family and silently judged them as you yourself were judged.
But did you celebrate the holiday immediately after Thanksgiving. Sure, you may not have known this was a holiday, but chances are you participated someway in the yearly rituals.
Most of the time is starts with family putting up the Christmas tree. It’s all good music, nice atmosphere, safely tucked away with your hot chocolate and your favorite blankie. However, did you notice someone missing from that scene? Perhaps someone that wasn’t there, who is never there the day after Thanksgiving? Where is good old dad? As my daughter likes to say—Where did he go?
He is participating in the most important ritual of the holiday. In fact, he is the star and the reason there is a holiday to begin with.
It’s called Daddy Cheats Death day and it’s practiced around America by millions of fathers.
While most people are snug inside watching How the Grinch stole Christmas, Daddy is outside, in the freezing cold, hanging the Christmas Lights on the house so the rest of you yahoo’s can “feel” like it’s Christmas. We do this gladly because after all, this is our day to look Mr. Death in face and say “Fuck you, I’m going up on that ice covered roof and you can suck my balls.”
Children are often encouraged to “go help Daddy” with the lights and they dutifully trudge outside only to discover that shit, it’s cold out here and maybe if I piss and moan a little bit the old man will send me right back inside with the womenfolk and maybe I can get a smore.
This year Little Hoss joined me outside as when I need a helper, I always take my two year old, she’s awesome. We were outside for a good 30 minutes before she broke the Christmas light bulb and I was impressed. In the year that she has helped me on projects, that is the first mistake that she has made. But in hindsight, it was more mine because I told her to hold the hammer. Technically, she did hold the hammer, very tightly, as she showed the blue light bulb what happens to uppity light bulbs that won’t stay attached to the side of the house.
Of course I took the hammer away from knuckles. She soon got bored and then ate some dirt, taking a lot of pride in showing me how much she could cram into her piehole. Then it got to cold and she had to go inside.
But my day wasn’t done because I had just begun to cheat death on my ladder and the rules of this holiday say that I’ve got to cheat it for a good 4 hours before I’m allowed to come inside and put the angel on top of the tree.
I’m not a big fan of ladders in general. I’ve got it in my mind that they were designed for a 160 pound man with a mustache who goes by the name of Ralph. Ralph’s a good guy, don’t get me wrong, but is Ralph’s personal stamp of approval on this ladder so I know that it won’t drop my sizable frame to the ground like a sack of flour? I think not so I tend to ignore ladders when possible but on Daddy Cheat Death day, it’s unavoidable.
The wind is howling but that’s not as bad as the dirt and shit being pushed off the roof and into my every loving gaping mouth. Shingle should be a new flavor at Baskin Robbins, just for today.
Hanging lights is normally not so bad, besides the white knuckle grip that I have on the rungs of the ladder. One hand for yourself, one hand for the boat kinda thing. But it’s the heckling that truly makes this day extra special.
“How’s it going” mom says through the comfort of the screen door. Fine, considering that I haven’t fallen and broken my neck yet. I would say that I’m one up on Daddy Cheat Death day and things are looking good.
“Hey buddy, how ‘bout coming over to my house and hanging my lights for me. Har, Har, De-fucking-har” says the passerby who is walking his dog. Sure, no problem. And since I’m doing all your jobs, how about I come over and nail your wife while I’m at it. Why not take care of two things at once? I hang your lights, get my reach around, everyone’s happy. Every one that is within 20 miles of my house has to come out and say something witty right when I'm trying to decide if my arm will actually reach that last light if I hang on with my fingertips. I need concentration people, complete silence. I'm working without a net.
Half way through the celebrating of Daddy Cheat Death day, I realize that I am going to be a light strand short. This is what we call “Tradition.” Pay attention class, there’s a quiz on this later. So down the ladder I go, into the car, and to the nearest gouge mart I can find.
This is where all the father’s gather about three hours into our celebrating this glorious day. All of us are in some kind of sweatshirt, blue jeans and with frozen snot hanging just above our upper lip. For those of you that go Black Friday shopping, you’ve actually seen us. You think we are the homeless guys and give us a quarter which we very much appreciate because we put it toward a purchase of lights that don’t quite match the ones we have and are guaranteed not to work next year.
We give each other a few grunts, slap a few asses and then head up to the checkout with whatever supply we have, but couldn’t find until it’s summer. The cashier, so very nice, will always ask us if we want the Rapids Reward Super Saver Card. We always say no, because saving 35 cents on my 4 dollar purchase just isn’t worth it. But wait, they explain, it’s so easy to do and takes less than 14 hours so why wouldn’t you do that? Let me get my manager so he can explain more fully why you need the Rapids Reward Super Saver Card.
What the cashier is doing is saying “Look, I want a bribe.” And because we don’t want to spend anymore time than is absolutely necessary in this crowded 5th circle of hell, we gladly give her a bribe making that one light strand cost 54.35 instead of just 4 bucks.
I hurried home and back up on the roof I went. 2 hours later, I was done and the lights switched on fine. I believe in a tacky Christmas. I want colored lights, I want big inflatable Snowmen smacking down Santa. I want Halloween decorations mingled in with the Christmas decorations because some dad just got whipped and didn’t care anymore. That’s my kind of Christmas. Unfortunately, my new neighborhood doesn’t think so. Most of their lights were done by paid professionals and all of them, every single one, is bright white lights. And then there is my house, at the very beginning of the neighborhood, with the colossal colored monstrosity exploding with Technicolor fabulousness. Awesomeness.
I have celebrated another successful Daddy Cheats Death day and all is as it should be. Tomorrow, I set the lights to music and leave them plugged in, day and night, for the next two months. Heckle me now, montherfuckers.