Everyone, that is, except my family.
Year after year, we watch as other houses launch massive attacks against good taste as we hide behind a beautifully classic wreath adorning our door, elegantly lit by a single spotlight hidden in the bushes. Finally, Pandito and I could take it no more.
December 26th, 2010, we snuck out of the house in the middle of the evening under the guise of going to the grocery store. We headed to our local Home Depot, where yard decorations were at 50% off. After some debate over a Santa riding a helicopter, we settled on a twelve foot inflatable Father Christmas and a row of light-up lollipops wearing neck-ties.
We hid these treasures in the attic of our parents’ house for a solid year, to be set up after our parents fell asleep the first night we were both home for Christmas. Pandito was able to be cool, but I was certain every day that our father knew exactly what we were up to. Cool has never been my strong suit.
After a year of bragging to our friends and furiously texting each other in excitement, the night was upon us.
It was pouring down rain as we trudged outside, with a plastic sack-full of Santa slung over our shoulders. Reading directions has never appealed to either of us the way that figuring things out by feel has, so we went with that. After he’d fallen over the 19th time, we figured we’d finally gotten it right.
For fire safety reasons, we unplugged our decorations, making a pact to wake-up at four AM to set everything back up before our parents awoke.
At five-thirty that morning, I awoke with a start: I’d slept through my alarm and someone was awake downstairs. I sprinted to our upstairs landing to see if, by some miracle, Pandito had gotten up and set up Santa without me.
No such luck.
So I ran down the stairs without a plan, praying that no one had noticed a flat, lifeless twelve-foot Santa on the lawn.
Fortunately, my mom was the one awake. She was in the kitchen, setting up breakfast for her cats.
“Panda, why are you up?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I’m wired. Have you gotten the paper?!”
I must have looked and sounded like a schizophrenic on meth. Relying on my mom’s own wishes to go back to bed, I ran outside and started working on the obnoxious dose of Christmas cheer on the lawn.
By the time I got back inside my mom had vanished; the cats were fed. I trudged back up to my bed, thrilled for the reactions my parents were sure to have.
As my dad left for work that morning, this is what he saw:
Never decorate for Christmas after midnight.