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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

The NC Double Scrooge: Decor Division

Submitted by on December 13, 2010 – 12:57 PM106 Comments

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree: how could such a lovely symbol cause so many problems? But it does — or perhaps it's the futile quest for arboreal perfection that ties us in knots. Whatever the cause of your decorative disgruntlement this holiday season, you can vote on it here.

Coming later in the week: family/social obligations (which is where we've stashed the dozens of "what happened to all the ornaments at the bottom of the tr– CAAAAAAATS"-type poll entries); movies and specials; and, of course, the holidays in song.

For now: you can spell "wreath" without "hate"…but we wouldn't advise it. It's the catch-all decorations/Christmas spirit category: vote now!

NC Double Scrooge, Decor Division: Please Pick The Three (3) WORST

  • People who get all bent out of shape about having to say "the holidays" (39%, 448 Votes)
  • People who get all bent out of shape if you say "Christmas" instead of "the holidays" (23%, 265 Votes)
  • People who leave their fading, drooping decorations up until February (i.e., "the tree" becomes "the Valentine's Day needle heap") (20%, 224 Votes)
  • Epileptically blinking lights (17%, 194 Votes)
  • The Tree Police: people who are obsessed with whether/when everyone ELSE gets a tree, whether it's real or fake, what goes on top, etc. etc. amen -- mind your business, Tannenbaum Polizei (16%, 183 Votes)
  • Lack of snow/creepy warmth after 12/1 (14%, 163 Votes)
  • Trees dropping needles the DAY AFTER YOU BRING IT HOME and then tracking said needles into every room in the house (13%, 149 Votes)
  • The price of real trees -- what, it's made of platinum? Fuck off, "eighty dollars" (13%, 148 Votes)
  • Ugly reindeer sweaters and their sudden resurgence as a party theme (12%, 135 Votes)
  • Intrusive outdoor decorating (12%, 132 Votes)
  • Having a birthday between December 15 and January 2 (11%, 127 Votes)
  • The non-word "Xmas" (which, if you think about it, is really "Crossmas"...or "Ex-mas") (11%, 125 Votes)
  • Fake snow (10%, 116 Votes)
  • The @*&#! Christmas tree stand (9%, 108 Votes)
  • Fake trees (9%, 97 Votes)
  • JINGLING (8%, 96 Votes)
  • Tangly tree lights (8%, 95 Votes)
  • Too much snow (6%, 71 Votes)
  • Actual Nutcrackers: what's with the creepy unhinging jaw and beard that gets in your nutmeats? Let's buy the walnuts pre-shelled, shall we? (6%, 67 Votes)
  • Getting sap all over everything (5%, 60 Votes)
  • Somehow not discovering the giant bare spot on the tree until you get it home, even though you examined it from every possible angle on the lot (5%, 60 Votes)
  • Neckties that play Christmas songs (5%, 59 Votes)
  • Being accused of buzzkillage when you refuse to mess up your hair with novelty antlers (5%, 59 Votes)
  • Trees that don't smell enough (5%, 58 Votes)
  • Your moth-eaten, misshapen kindergarten ornaments Mom insists on continuing to hang on the tree that are, even for a five-year-old, poor work (4%, 47 Votes)
  • Not looking good in red and/or green (2%, 18 Votes)
  • Elves (1%, 15 Votes)
  • The "star versus angel" "debate" (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Angry nippy wreath that won't hang straight and takes 19,245 tiny bites out of your wrists in the attempt (1%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,138

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  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I just realized we left a misplaced modifier (which I just tried to type as "mofo" — the brilliance continues!) in here, and the tree itself is not tracking the needles all through the house.

    …OR IS IT

  • Shanna says:

    For the love of cute fluffy kittens, IT IS THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. Learn it, live it, love it. Jesus is the reason for the season, Chanukah is such a non-holiday that most Jews probably wouldn't celebrate it were it not for calendrical proximity. (For whatever it's worth, I'm Jewish and saying this. And I find it beyond annoying to be wished a "happy holiday" long after Chanukah is over. It's a Christian country; I'm cool with that.)

  • Meredith says:

    I voted for holiday birthdays in honor of my poor kid, who had to go and get born on Dec. 30. Any tips on how parents should deal with this from those who are similarly birthdayed would be awesome.

  • Andrea says:

    Yard inflatables should have their own mention. They go beyond intrusive outdoor decorating, I think. Especially the snow globes.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Mer: My boyfriend's birthday is 12/26. I keep telling him to move it to April or something. "I can't just change my birthday." "Charo did it!"

    …Hmm, maybe I need to change my angle of attack here.

  • Jill TX says:

    "Nutmeats"? I now have a new "grossest word I've ever heard." (I'm a tad word-sensitive.)

  • Jill TX says:

    @Meredith: There are 3 December 30ths in my life, along with a few 20th-29ths. For younger ones, it seems like making a big deal of half-birthdays can be a good option. For my dad, we've always made a point to give an entirely separate gift and card that are not in any way decorated in Christmas colors or giftwrap. He appreciates that.

  • adam807 says:

    This is too NYC-centric, but the goddamn Christmas tree salespeople who suddenly appear on the sidewalks. I mean, I know this is where people have to get their trees in the city and it smells amazing and all but this town is too damn crowded with all the tourists already to be taking up half the sidewalk with freaking dead trees!

    Also, I'm Jewish, and yes, can we please stop with the "Happy Holidays" nonsense? I mean, not that we can't say it, but we needn't outlaw the alternatives either. Christmas is a national holiday. It's as much American as it is Christian at this point, and an excuse to light lights in the darkest part of the year and have parties and give presents. And peace and love and joy and family and all that know no religion (barf). I don't get offended when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. I appreciate the sentiment, and I do intend to have a very happy December 25th. Seriously, get over it.

  • Jenn says:

    @Meredith: All I can say is make sure you're never the parent who says, "You get one combo birthday/Christmas gift." My nephew's b-day is December 22nd, and I have promised myself that I will never be That Aunt.

  • Ellen says:

    @Meredith, it's not easy with all the excitement/insanity around Christmas, but my parents never let my birthday get all caught up in the rush to the holidays. Even if you're wiped out from all of the shopping/gatherings/etc. make sure you do something to celebrate (and no Christmas leftovers for dinner!)

    Being in that 12/15-01/02 birthday range myself, it annoys me when someone does the "here's your 'Birthmas' present!" thing. Buy me two smaller presents, or get me the big one for Christmas and give me a chocolate bar or baseball cards or Hello Kitty stickers even just a CARD. The worst was the year a guy I was dating pulled that, so when it came time for me to give him his Christmas present, I told him "Oh, this is your joint Christmas-Birthday present" and he got really mad and went on about how his birthday wasn't until February so I hit him with "Well, if you don't think it's important enough to recognize that my birthday is separate from Christmas, why should I bother doing that for you?" Needless to say we split up not long after that… quelle surprise.

  • Meg says:

    @Meredith :

    1. Separate! Separate cards, presents, parties, etc. I hated having "Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas!" be the standard.
    2. If it's AT ALL possible, celebrate the half-birthday. I begged for this idea every year & got it to celebrate my twelfth-and-a-half birthday in June, with a pool party, which was so much cooler. It's not as vital as an adult, but it bugged me for my entire childhood.
    3. Emphasize to family members how important it is for your whole family to recognize & celebrate birthdays as distinct events, not tacked on to the nearest holiday party.

  • AngieFM says:

    My husband's birthday is New Year's Eve, and I wish we could just celebrate it in July or something. @Meredith, the only advice I have is what you've already heard: don't combine it into mash-up Birthmas, giving the poor kid half the presents he would've gotten with a birthday elsewhere in the year. Oh, I do have one other idea: around this time of year I always wish I had assigned myself to do the birthday shopping four months ago and just kept the gifties in a closet somewhere. I never remember to do this, but maybe you can!

  • badkittyuno says:

    "Epileptically blinking lights". Amen. There are two houses on our street (facing each other) with not only an insane amount of blinking lights, but all of the lights blink at different times, PLUS both houses used those new LED lights, which are WAY too bright in my opinion. I'm so glad we live several doors down — I bet their neighbors see those blinking lights in every room of the house.

  • Anlyn says:

    I would choose "too much snow", except it's not snow that bothers me, it's ice. I hate getting stuck at work and having to drive home on super-slick streets because it started sleeting at noon. Though that's a risk all through Nov-March where I live, so it's not just Christmas.

    God, I wish Mom would throw out those crappy ornaments from when I was a kid. Also, I would add "too many ornaments". Way, way too many ornaments.

  • sb says:

    @Jill TX: I similarly noted the word "nutmeats," although my reaction was more *SNERK!* than "gross." Perhaps "hew" is appropriate. :)

  • Keckler says:

    Come on, Bunting, you know your tree gets up to the same nightly shenanigans that mine does.

    "Nutmeats" is pretty awesomely hew.

  • Rachel says:

    Gotta stand up for Xmas: Using the Greek letter Chi (which, yes, happens to look exactly like our capital letter X) to stand for the word Christ is a tradition that goes back centuries.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    "Moist nutmeats" is probably worse. You're "welcome."

  • amacampbell says:

    True tree stand story: last year was the first post-divorce Christmas. I went through the Christmas stuff to find no lights and *three* Christmas tree stands.

    I bought a fake tree and donated the tree stands.

  • MsC says:

    My birthday is the 14th, so I vote for that. These days it doesn't bother me but as a kid it *sucked* how my friends bought me one gift for both, but I had to get them a Christmas gift AND a birthday present in May or whatever.

    People who get hacked off by a well-meant 'Merry Christmas' and people who get hacked off by a well-meant 'Happy Holidays' annoy me equally.

  • Ashley says:

    On the "Happy Holidays" tip, I think just assuming a Christmas/Hanukkah split is missing the point. When I go for "holidays" instead of "Christmas" it's because I'm keeping in mind the whole December-through-New Year's shebang. There's a lot going on in there for people of a lot of religions or none, and I want everybody to have a happy all of it!

    (Also I live in an oppressively tea-partyish and Bible-belty backwater and I enjoy watching people's heads spin. One-woman war on Christmas! That's me!)

  • Krista says:

    I had to search to find three. I love any and all trees though only fake trees will be found in my house. I hate to vaccuum now so the only thing allowed to shed must go meow.

    The one that was definite was the Christmas birthdays. My niece is a December 25 baby. She's going to be three so it's not really an issue yet, but I can see it becoming one. Mom is a supporter of the "just celebrate it in the spring" idea.

  • MattPatt says:

    I'm with Rachel — "Xmas" probably predates every other Christmas tradition that USians typically observe.

    Also, people who get bent out of shape at "holidays" can cram it — last I checked, New Year's is still the week after, every single year.

  • Keckler says:

    My comment on X-Mas comes via Futurama's "Santa Claus is Gunning You Down."

  • Shanna says:

    @Meredith – My bday is Dec 31. I'd like to second (fifth? whatever) the no-combo-gifts sentiment, at least until your daughter is old enough (say, in her teens) to suggest the idea to you herself. Celebrating a half-birthday is great for young kids (though then it's in June, and probably after school is out). Make sure birthday parties have no seasonal/holiday decorations – no red paper plates, no gingerbread cookies, etc. Also, my parents never did it, but I think years + days would be a neat trick: so if it is her fifth birthday, for example, you would celebrate when she is five years + five days old (January 4), which puts a little more of a separation between Christmas and the birthday.

  • April says:

    I voted for tree stands in honor of my dad and the Christmas tree stand the year that it broke and leaked all over the carpet and we didn't find out until the next day.
    "Man, this tree is thirsty!"
    "Hey, why are all the presents wet?"
    *Dad begins swearing under his breath*

    They still haven't replaced the carpet, but the TV stand covers the stain 11 months out of the year anyway.

  • mctwin says:

    My next-youngest sister, still bitter that my twin and I usurped her "youngest" status, has a birthday right before Christmas. Too bad! I've had to share my birthday, not just with my twin, but with the 4 other Libras in the family all my life! We do have a separate birthday celebration for her but she gets no sympathy from me!!

    Also, "Tannenbaum Polizei"? Priceless!

  • mindy says:

    My birthday's the 15th, and I agree with MsC about the annoyance of the "this is for your birthday and Christmas" presents — and how I'd always end up using my birthday money on Christmas presents.

    Of course, my brother has it worse — his birthday is Christmas. (Though he always gets his birthday off.) (We always had his party on June 25th, because who wants to host a birthday party for a horde of little boys when they can't be sent outside to play?)

  • Brandi says:

    I'm in North Carolina so I'm required to vote for too warm/no snow. Seriously, it was in the high 60s here the week after Thanksgiving. Try getting into the Christmas spirit when it's not cold enough to put away your summer/fall clothes yet!

    I then voted for both greeting options. I can't stand people getting all buttjacked of being wished the wrong thing. As Carolyn Hax said in her chat last week, they're not telling you to drop dead. So say "same to you" or "you too" and get on with life!

  • mspaul says:

    I can't believe that fake trees are so low in the standings! The first Christmas after my mom married my stepdad (I was 8), he insisted on using his craptastic fake Charlie Brown abomination that smelled like the basement. After having "go out to the woods and cut down your own" trees my entire life, this clearly could not stand. I boycotted every aspect of Christmas at their house that year, from decorating to present opening, preferring instead to lock myself in my room and read. Dramatic, yes, but they have had a real tree every year since.

  • GracieGirl says:

    People who get hacked off by a well-meant 'Merry Christmas' and people who get hacked off by a well-meant 'Happy Holidays' annoy me equally.

    Me, too, MsC! I have trouble understanding why anybody would get upset over being wished a happy/merry/jolly anything. If someone is being friendly, I'm going to take it in the spirit in which it's meant and not quibble over semantics. (I tend to say "Happy Holidays" because I feel it's better phrase for encompassing the entire season from Thanksgiving through New Year.)

    Since this is the decorating thread, I'd like to start an informal poll: What flavor of lights do you prefer – white, single-color, or multi-color? Also, do you have a different preference for tree lights vs. exterior lights?

    I'm multi-color lights all the way. Single-colors can be fine as long as you mix 'em up (say, alternating bushes in red, blue, green, etc.) and I'm okay with white if you're using it to stripe a candy cane or something, but it makes me so sad to drive through neighborhood and see house after house of boring white lights. Meh.

  • jive turkey says:

    Ever seen this John Roberts video about the ultimate Christmas tree-obsessed Mom? LOVE. IT.

  • Emily says:

    Forget the holidays/Christmas debate; I've just realized that my ONLY issue re: the holiday season is "people who get all bent out of shape if you [insert thing here]." Magically, my family and I have managed to resolve our Holiday Issues (fake tree, real snow, angel, "Merry Christmas" only on the 25th) and celebrate a calm, happy, and meaningful Christmas every year. It's the friends, strangers, and assorted hangers-on who want to get all judge-y about the particulars that induce RAGE.

  • Lee says:

    I suppose this is not too common in the NYC area, but I really HATE those stupid antlers and rudolph noses people put on their SUV's this time of year. The first time it was kind of cute, but when traffic looks like a Christmas parade I'm officially over it.

  • Sherry says:

    I'm sorry but I have to chime in here. Christmas is NOT a national Holiday. And quite frankly nothing pisses me off more that when people say that. We are supposed to have a separation of church and state in this country. I have no problem with anyone else celebrating their religious holidays but stop shoving it in my face and acting like there is something wrong with me because I don't believe in JESUS. I happily go to my friends Christmas parties and help them celebrate. But just because you choose to celebrate the birth of Christ so as not to feel left out does not mean that the rest of us Jews are not perfectly happy without it. //rant over//

  • Isabel C. says:

    I'd like to cast a write-in vote for inflatable lawn ornaments: when they're not tacky, they're creepy, and they're out on the lawn, staring at me, so that I have to cross the street when I'm walking home because THE SNOWMAN WILL EAT MY SOUL PLEASE GOD MAKE IT GO AWAY.

    I'm totally on the multi-colored or at least single-colored lights side. White lights are supposed to be subdued and tasteful, I get that, but that's the same decorating sensibility that led to ten years of earth-toned upholstery and rugs where I grew up. Like living inside a vat of Quaker Oatmeal, my childhood.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Christmas is NOT a national Holiday.

    I think you mean that it isn't a universal holiday. As far as institutionalized days off go, though? Don't make 'em much bigger than that one.

  • Isis Uptown says:

    See the Entertainment Division poll comments for my a-Rudolph-ist sentiments. They apply here, as well, since lots of decor features a miniature sleigh and nine tiny reindeer. Which is wrong.

    We don't have a tree.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:


    FUCKING POINSETTAS. They are the turtles/gerbils of the plant world–die as soon as you get them home! My workplace still has not learned this lesson and wilting, shriveling poinsettas are doing their damn lame puppy imitations all over the damn place. Shedding, crumpling, turning yellow but refusing to just DIE because they must hang on and provide Christmas cheer to one and all even as they gasp their last, painful, Tiny Tim-esque breaths everywhere. Plus, they're poisonous! Happy Holidays, everybody!

    On a much less Grinchy note, I really don't mind fake trees. We had one while I was growing up; a truly ancient thing with a wooden rod that you attached the branches to, so all my holiday memories are bonded to it.

    Also, the first Christmas my now-husband and I spent together, I mentioned that I hadn't bothered much with decorating while living alone. Too much work, you're the only one who sees it, etc.

    So, one night, a couple weeks before the big day, I come home from work to find: a lovely (fake) full size tree set up in my apartment! It was the kind with lights built in, all plugged in and ready to for us to hang the box of homemade decorations his mom sent!

    So, fake tree can definitely = big love.

  • Rinaldo says:

    Any tips on how parents should deal with this from those who are similarly birthdayed would be awesome.

    As a Dec. 27 birthdayer, I will repeat what others have said, that the most important thing is to make it a separate celebration with separate presents — which my parents always did from the beginning. (And still kind of do, as I visit the aged parents for the week around Christmas.)

    If that is taken care of, most of the rest can be survived: I could tolerate combo gifts from friends and more distant relatives as long as the parents made the distinction. Half-birthday parties sound like fun but it was never managed for me. (One year they actually managed to organize a real party for me with other kids on the 27th, but I think it was only the once.) It's getting the right kind of attention and consideration from parents that made all the difference.

  • sam says:

    Here is one you forgot: When you are a kid and you are not allowed to decorate the tree until your dad has put the lights on it. And when he finally does, one of the bulbs is broken and then you have to undo each bulb to work out which one is the culprit (it's always the very last one you test) and then you find out he has no spare bulbs and he has to go out and buy one and all the time you are about to explode you want to decorate that tree so badly.

  • MsC says:

    @GracieGirl. 'I'm going to take it in the spirit in which it's meant' Exactly! It's one thing if your aunt insists on sending you some aggressively religious Christmas card with a handwritten note about how Jesus misses you when she knows you converted to Hinduism 10 years ago. But the guy you rode the elevator with this morning? Is most likely not trying to Make A Statement.

    I tend to stick with 'Happy Holidays' myself, because there are a lot of holidays this time of year and if nothing else, there's the new year.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Agree too, on the "December Birthday = Big Time Screwed" problem. My sister's birthday is Dec. 6, which is just squeezing in the door, but at least she can count on a few freinds not rolling their eyes at her "selfishness" at wanting some acknowledgment that she's on the planet. My poor aunt, however, was born Dec. 24 and has just given up the entire thing and celebrates in June. I make a point of sending her a birthday card every year in December, though. Just because she shares with Jesus doesn't mean he MINDS her having a damn birthday!

  • Annie B. says:

    My sister's birthday is December 30th, mine always falls on or around Thanksgiving, and my other sister was born February 14th. My parents always tried to make sure we had celebrations separate from the adjacent holidays, which was nice. The hardest part is throwing birthday parties because people tend to have family obligations or other events around those times.

    I'll chime in for "X" as an abbreviation for "Christ." I learned that at the Catholic liberal arts university I attended with Meredith (the one with the daughter born 12/30 – she's the reason I found Tomato Nation!), where we used it all the time when taking notes in our theology classes. Meredith's roommate was named Christina, and we were calling her Xtina way before Christina Aguilera did it.

    The scent of real Christmas trees gives me a headache due to my allergies, so I've never had one and avoid them whenever possible. I can't wrap my head around wanting to deal with all the problems listed above every year, but I know a lot of people just love real trees. I like my fake, pre-lit one. With the ornaments I made in elementary school on it.

  • Pam says:

    I join the "no combo" gifts/cards camp. I would have voted for the birthday between 12/15 and 1/2, but my birthday is January 4th, which may be worse… many, many a year my birthday was the day back to school from holiday vacay. And I still got/get the birthmas gifts/cards. The only plus? If I got gift cards or cash, things were on sale so I might get more loot for the same amount. Just as an aside, my husband is 12/2, brother is 12/6, MIL 12/14, SIL 12/18, father and best friend 12/29, so I have some immediate company who agree.

  • RC says:

    Whoa whoa whoa….. someone invented a necktie that plays christmas songs????? But… why would someone do such a horrible thing??? The singing Santa heads that start singing whenever anyone walks by within a 5-foot radius is bad enough… but to walk around with it on your neck??

  • Jesse says:

    As another one with a 12/26 birthday, I agree that it's the parents making a point of keeping things separate that makes the difference when you're a kid. I have to say, I kind of like it — I feel like 12/26 is a big let-down day for most people, and I still get to celebrate! And I never got into the habit of an annual birthday celebration with friends, so it's not a big deal now, either, when a lot of folks still aren't around/available that day.

    My father is 12/21, and he's the one who really gets screwed — half the time we forget it's his birthday, in the midst of Xmas (XMAS!!) preparations.

  • Jenn says:

    "As Carolyn Hax said in her chat last week, they're not telling you to drop dead. So say "same to you" or "you too" and get on with life!"

    Seriously. If someone said to me, "Happy Hanukkah," I wouldn't say, "I'm not Jewish, so I reject your holiday wishes." And I've never heard someone respond to "happy holidays" with, "You mean Happy Hanukkah." Just take it for what it is – a common courtesy – and go get worked up about something that's actually worth it.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    RC, it's from the same evil scientists that unleashed the "battery powered Christmas lights" sweatshirt/unholy abomination on the world.

  • adam807 says:

    @Sherry. Christmas is a federal holiday. Not to be all Linky McProveMyPoint but: It's even covered when it falls on a weekend. I agree that that's problematic with separation of church and state, but that doesn't change the fact that government offices, post office, banks, stock market, etc. all close for it.

    I could get up on a church-and-state high horse about this (believe me, I have over other things), but I choose instead to accept that there are two Christmases: The secular, commercial, winter solticey one that I enjoy, and the religious, birth-of-Christ one that isn't part of my upbringing or belief system.

    Also, I really might change my Twitter handle to MoistNutmeats.

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