By Tim Sullivan
I threw my back out. The timing isn’t great because with seven houseguests set to arrive for Christmas week, the schlepping of stuff has only just begun. Now I’m in physical therapy for the second time this year (my calf is semi-functional now, thanks for asking). The point is, I suppose, I’m getting old? My physical therapist, Jackie, found a spot in my quadratus lumborum that seems to be the epicenter of my back pain and mobility issues. It was so painful as she massaged I envisioned the emptying of a tiny vault where all the awful of 2016 was stored.
The motto at Athlete’s Potential (athletespotential.com) is “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” I’m not so sure about that but I think what they’re saying is that despite my failing muscles, I have potential. We finished the session with a round of Cryotherapy because apparently, right now is the damn future. The 3-minute sessions of standing in a chamber that is cooled to 130 degrees below zero is sure to either restore some of my youth or earn me a spot on a shelf next to Ted Williams’ head. Let’s hope it’s the former because we got Christmas to tend to people!
One of Elliott’s teachers spilled the beans about the Elf on the Shelf. She told the class she got tired of moving the thing every night for her kids at home so when one of them accidentally touched the elf she said that it killed him. I guess she figured that 4th graders wouldn’t be traumatized by this revelation. Elliott had his doubts for sure but he still enjoyed seeing what the little guy was up to each morning. He asked me if it was really the parents that move the elf. I took a deep breath and said yes, thinking he’d be crushed.
But I guess he is getting older, too, because he ran with it. It was like he gained top-level security clearance for classified household intelligence. The timing was good, because Kristen and I were running out of elfin ideas. Now Elliott is our plucky, junior staffer and he repositions the elf each night for Margo. He hasn’t ventured any further to ask about Santa and the gifts just yet. I think he’s afraid of mucking up a good system.
For holiday decorating, I opt for an understated look. I like white lights and wreaths to adorn the front of the house and not a whole lot more. With each season this purity takes something of a hit though. Margo is now old enough to weigh in on things like décor (and frankly, most everything else). She laments “why can’t we overdo it like the Alexanders and the Pinyons?” She wants a yard full of blow up characters accented by a laser light show, and I’m afraid her mother agrees with her. We compromised on a few demure characters made of seagrass: a small Santa, a penguin and a fox with a top hat. Because really, what exemplifies the Christmas spirit more than a fox with a top hat?
My mother-in-law is thinking of selling her house and downsizing because, well, she’s getting older as well. So this year she brought her army of Santa collectibles that she has been amassing for the past 50 years. There’s Jolly Santa, Skinny Santa, Irish Santa… The front yard may be unassuming, but inside our house is Christmas as heck! The batteries in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were dead (since 1984 probably) so I popped in some fresh ones. I expected a dying, nasally whirr at best, but sure enough the first thing that came out was “I’m cute! She thinks I’m cute!” So even after all these years, Clarice still sees some potential in old Rudolph, too. I guess the holidays have a way of warming up the old engine, don’t they?
Cheers all and happy 2017!
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.