It’s closing in on the time of year when, as a sort of sad, twisted Christmas present to myself, I ask myself if it was worth being a bitch for twelve months to have what might appear as a tiny bit of money left in the bank with which to start 2017.
In 2015, after six months of complaining, name calling, financial infidelity, and undermining all efforts to stick to my “Draconian” budgeting plan, I gave up trying in June and we ended the year being overdrawn. Major meltdown happened and frankly, that scarred me for life. I vowed that would not happen again.
And so, yes, it was worth being a bitch and sticking to my draconian budget plan if it means I get the gift of not witnessing a meltdown that was of one’s own fault in the first place.
Do I know how to party, or what?
I’ve decided to start my 2017 reading list early, beginning with a rereading of Fight Club, because the end of the year is approaching and I like how it smacks around the stupidity of consumerism for the sake of consumerism. As someone who, out of necessity because of massive debt, hasn’t celebrated the holidays with gifts since 2001, and spent too much time being depressed about that, parts of Fight Club is a good headspace to be in. Parts of the book isn’t a good place, but this is a reread; I know where it’s going, I know how it ends. I don’t need to focus on the bad parts, just what works for me now. Now is all about making sure someone else doesn’t start believing spending money is the thing to do just because everyone else is spending money. Also, the holidays.
It snowed here today, ever so briefly. A neighbor’s ignored kitten is staying in a warmed feral cat shelter I have in my backyard. Today, she experienced snow and she didn’t like it. She’s a smart one and stuck to the narrow space next to the house where the cement was wet and not slushy to get to a food bowl left out daily for neighborhood strays. She’s eight months old and black with a touch of white on her chest and she’s a sweetheart who loves human interaction. I cannot and will not take it in, nor will I turn it in to our “humane” society – I know their true death rate numbers as a result of being a shelter volunteer. I feel good about providing food, warmth, and shelter within our budget to someone not of our family. That’s a gift to myself, too.
Last year, we had numerous trees cut down and removed from our tiny property and we lost some bushes here and there, mostly on the front east side. Some needed to come down, others were permanently damaged by years of the rental neighbors urinating on them. Up until our front birch trees died and needed removed, I had a good Christmas lighting plan going. Everything looked balanced, as if some professional lighting expert knew what they were doing. I stuck to that plan year in and year out. It worked.
Now, I just don’t have a good vision on how I can make our Christmas lights look any better than a bunch of mismatched sets of various colors thrown willy-nilly at this bush and that. There is no plan. Nothing looks balanced. It’s a blob of color with a few strings of white lights wrapped around a short tree trunk.
Part of this angst is due to not putting lights on the house. We never have, for the following reasons: 1) we refuse to staple gun anything to our house, remembering the damage done to the rental house we lived in for eight years prior, 2) light clips have never seemed to work for us, and 3) I’m the only one who puts up lights, meaning, I’d have to be the one to find a neighbor with a twenty-four foot ladder to borrow, I’d have to be the one to hold it while I climb it, and I’d have to be the one to watch that I don’t fall off our moss-covered roof while trying, somehow, to put up lights without the use of a staple gun, nails, or light clips.
And then, I’d have to go up and take them all down again in January.
Nope. Not happening.
But here’s the good part: This year, all our neighbors have decided, independently, to put up red and white lights. Only red and white lights. Most are steady burning. Some flash like a half-burnt out Eat At Joe’s diner sign. All look tacked up, sagging here and there, with mismatched bulb sizes and brightness, LEDs mixed with regular, old school C9 bulbs that are probably sucking half the power of east Clark County. There are sun-faded inflatable things lying in yards, things that I’m not sure have anything to do with Christmas – maybe I’m just out of the loop but what does an octopus have to do with the holidays? Most are waiting to be plugged in and blown up, for those that will blow up. The others lay across yards in vinyl fabric puddles, killing the grass, their owners having already given up trying to resuscitate the six-foot jolly man in red or revive the snowman from the movie Frozen.
No inflatables here. Nothing fancy. No garland swaying free in the east winds. No big plastic ornaments banging together from a porch roof. Our lights are simply strings of multi-colored LED lights woven through a row of one-foot tall boxwood, a single two-foot tall blue juniper, a six-foot stretch of three-foot high holly bushes (bushes that miraculously survived human urine), and a four-foot tall Japanese maple completely wrapped in cool blue-white LED brightness.
It’s not pretty, but it does stand out. Everyone else has lights tacked up on their houses and none on the bushes in their yards. We have nothing on our house and everything on the bushes in our yard. I guess that’s what the old lighting plan did, too. It was different and it stood out. So, maybe it isn’t so bad out there after all. I feel better about it already.