Every fall, as the leaves redden and fall off the branches and pile up on my lawn, the magazines pile up in my mailbox, each whispering and begging me to open them, hoping I’ll add their goodies to my Christmas list. Mostly I roll my eyes, wonder how I got on the mailing list for Geriatrics Quarterly, and throw them into the recycling bin. Occasionally, I’ll catch my pack-rat eight-year-old trying to stealthily make off with Cardiac Surgeon Monthly (I’m just sure he’s saving his pennies to buy me a portable defibrillator!), which is always an epic battle of the wills, but usually I go unchallenged. I would personally like to offer a sloppy kiss of thanks to whomever invented the gift card.
The only catalog that I have any interest in spending time with is my Pottery Barn Holiday  Edition catalog. That one is to me what Victoria’s Secret  catalogs are to teenage boys: eye candy. I grab a nice tall glass of vodka and I sit down on my puke-stained couch and I fantasize. From the clean coffee table surfaces, free of broken toys and overflowing laundry baskets to the expertly arranged eucalyptus garland, roping around the mantle, where the stockings hang, just so. My own mantle is so outdated it could easily be featured as the “before” shot on one of those home and garden programs where people come in and make fun of your crappy taste. Instead of eucalyptus garland, I have some gaudy gold garland that my two-year-old fell desperately in love with and it’s held up not with coordinated stocking holders but duct-tape and some nails I found in the basement.
Their Christmas tree is always expertly decorated from the lead-crystal covered snowflakes, the mountain of balls, all made of the world’s most shatterable glass, down to the pointy-metal reindeer, which, as I look closely, would make wonderful projectiles to be lobbed at one’s sibling. My tree is surrounded by a makeshift baby gate to keep out small animals and small children who might otherwise bring it crashing down onto the floor, which isn’t something I see in any of these pictures. In fact, I don’t see ANY kids in those pictures. I saw one cat once, but I think it was stuffed. The tree in my house is covered with plastic balls, all gaily colored and none really my taste, but all chosen by my children who have declared them beautiful.
Another year, I know I’ll come across those hideous plastic balls packed away, a vestige of times gone by, as I pull out the coveted Pottery Barn sterling silver snowflakes and the leaded crystal balls and I’ll cry. My children will have grown and my sofa will be puke-free, my coffee table clean, and my house, while maybe it will be prettier or cleaner or more chic, will feel less like a home.
So this year, I’m tossing that catalog out, along with Crystal Growers of Illinois and Fit and Fabulous Over Fifty. Bring on the ugly plastic balls. Bring on the piles of laundry and the mantle from 1976.
These are the good old days.