5 helpful tips for holiday decorating in Chicago

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster ( his “Brown Mom” wife), and their 3-year old daughter Viva, who has broken one decoration a day since Black Friday, and should have everything destroyed by New Year’s Eve.

You’ve just eaten a 25 pound Butterball and dropped a thousand dollars on HDTV’s before the sun came up the next day – that means it’s time to chop down a pine tree and attach a million tiny light bulbs to your gutters … or is it?  Here is a checklist of five things to think about before the decorations come out this year.

Consider the weather

Sure, it’s in the mid 40s now (sometimes) – which makes you think it’s a good idea to put nine metal reindeer and a sleigh on your roof, illuminated nets on all your landscaping, and animatronic Hardrock, Coco and Joe in your yard. But do you remember what the weather is like when it’s time to take DOWN the decorations?  45 below with three feet of snow and 60 percent chance of Wampa attack. January in Chicago isn’t a time to be working outside, it’s a time to be planning your move to San Diego.

After New Year’s, your kid’s school will be back in session and probably already cancelled because of obscenely low temperatures. Are these decorations something you really want to do, or would you rather pour some more eggnog and just take the kids to see the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo or that Santa dolphin musical thing at the Shedd?

Consider your health

Falling off the roof, being crushed under a conifer, and electrocution by Dicken’s village are the three leading sources of injuries during the holidays. (Not counting getting socked in the mug by Zuzu’s teacher’s husband for yelling at her on the phone.)  Why put yourself at risk?  And why tempt fate into giving you a grabber as your lug boxes down from the attic or up from the basement?  You don’t work hard all year just to spend a weekend dragging crates of garland in from the garage.

What do you think your children really want this Christmas – a house cluttered with mistletoe, or a happy Daddy who isn’t popping muscle relaxants after slipping a disk hauling icicle lights up a ladder?  Perhaps its time to pretend the answer is the former and stay on the couch this year.

Consider your housemates

If you have children, then either your Super Glue budget goes way up in December, or your decoration supply gets smaller every week. In the four days since we decorated the house, we’ve lost to our toddler’s curiosity a glittery stand-up Santa, a silver mini-tree, a gingerbread man spoon rest, a cartoon ornament, a candy-cane wine glass charm, and Mommy’s favorite Starbucks snow globe (a momento from a time when the true meaning of Christmas was red cups and peppermint mocha.)

If you have a pet, then your next few weeks will be filled with felines slapping Christopher Radko baubles to their doom and dogs dropping fully decorated spruces on their side. One year I didn’t realize our elderly cat had lost it’s bladder control on our tree skirt until I unpacked it the following year. 12 months is a long time to let urine soaked velour ferment in a tupperware vault.

Why do you do this to yourself? There will be plenty of time for decorations after the kids go to college and their pets pay a permanent visit to the other side of the grass in your back yard. In the meantime, put on that 24 hour burning log channel and tell your loved ones they can watch it all they want.

Consider good taste

The average holiday creche, featuring a blonde, blue-eyed Baby Jesus in a snow-covered stable full of camels, seems both culturally and climatalogically suspect. Your plastic light-up Peanuts Nativity scenes featuring a messianic Woodstock the bird is a total headscratcher.

It is understandable that some people would like to see the holidays reinfused with their origin stories, and there are certainly no laws against Wise Men, Menorahs and other religious iconography on your lawn in December … but someone please show me the holy book that says three Power Rangers travelled to Bethlemen to see SpongeBob in a manger being gazed on lovingly by Lightning McQueen and Doc McStuffins.

Before you open your wallet in the seasonal section of Lowe’s this year, remember that not every neighbor wants to see your 15 foot high inflatable Olaf every time they step out to shovel frozen copies of the Red Eye off the front steps.

Consider just driving around Naperville for a while

The citizens of DuPage Country have got gussying up their yards and houses down to a science.  (Some might even say a fetish.)  As soon as the animatronic graveyards are dismantled in the Western suburbs, enough Christmas lights go up to keep the astronauts awake on the International Space Station.

What’s the point of decorating the outside of your own house? You can’t see the outside of your house when you live inside of it! Why do all that work so the people across the street can be entertained? You don’t even like them! It’s also cheaper to drive down I-88 for the day than pay for your own sky-high electric bill for a month.

The holidays are busy and expensive – don’t spend your time and money on LED strands and holly if it doesn’t make sense for you. Keep a level head and decorating for the holidays can be something you don’t worry about at all. Remember, Snoopy didn’t need decorations at the very first Christmas, and that’s right there in the Bible.

You can CALL the White Dads now on their hotline:  (347) 766-3866. Leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast!

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