Happy Thanksgiving. Now where's the tree and holly?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

SHE SAID: The thermometer says 75 degrees, and I'm ready to decorate for Christmas.

I know it's the appropriate time because the department stores at the mall have strung holiday greenery with red and gold ornaments from the ceiling.

Let me just say right now that all of you holiday scrooges out there (you know who you are ... the people who can't stand to see Christmas decoration go up before Dec. 15) can just skip right down to Bob's part of the column.

You'll feel at home there.

This is one of the few aspects of Bob's uncommon common sense that I really don't understand (the rest I just ignore). My family has always decorated for Christmas the evening of Thanksgiving. My mom decorated the whole house; she had huge rubber totes filled with decorations handed down through generations of family members. The first year of marriage, when I asked Bob to help me dig out the tree on Thanksgiving Day, he refused.

Well, naturally, an argument ensued. I won (I usually do, thanks to the mile-wide stubborn streak that can keep me battling relentlessly for hours or days or weeks. It's not necessarily an endearing quality, but it gets the job done). Last year, we hosted our very first Thanksgiving at our house, so I actually put my decorations out even earlier. I've got hundreds of dollars invested in snowmen, angels, wreaths and ornaments. Might as well get as much use out of them as possible.

And really, what does it hurt? Bob's arguments against anything and everything usually revolve around either cost or the effort it will mean for him. Putting up decorations a few weeks early doesn't cost us anything. (In fact, we get more use out of stuff we've already bought!) And I do most of the decorating myself, with the exception of lugging the big boxes up from the basement. So there's really not much effort required from Bob on that score.

This year, I'm trying to convince Bob that I should put the tree up even earlier, owing to my growing belly. "What if in a few weeks I can't reach the tree to hang the ornaments? You'd have to do it all by yourself ..." I admit thus far this tactic has not gained much ground. I expect I'll have to send Bob out on some long errand around Nov. 16, and when he comes back -- voila! -- we're decorated.

HE SAID: I was reading in one of Callie's pregnancy books the other day that studies have shown that husbands have hormonal changes during their wives' pregnancy. It said something like we become more womanlike as we move through the trimesters. That would explain, to some degree, why pink baby clothes make my heart do funny things. But it would also explain why I'm softening on this whole Christmas decorating thing.

I still feel Thanksgiving is being disrespected by Christmas decorations. I rather like Thanksgiving, because I rather like food and sitting around with the rest of the boys in the family watching football. But Thanksgiving is also a time to celebrate the end of fall, and as such, the house should be decorated with fallish-type things. Besides that, the Christmas "season" lasts way too long, anyway. Normally, by the time Christmas actually comes around, the commercial side of the holiday makes me as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel. Perhaps if we all waited until, oh I don't know, December, to start playing Christmas music, I'd be less jaded.

But, this isn't any year. This is pregnancy year. I've done a horrible job in communicating to my wife about the little place in my heart that's as giddy as a Who in Whoville. The prospect of having a new child next April makes me warm like hot cocoa on Christmas Eve. I really haven't shown much evidence of that outwardly, and Callie warned me last week that I need to shape up. While complaining of work to be done to the house, and thinking of ways to pay for insurance and day care, I've only shown worry. But beyond the worry, I've also become much more sentimental, no matter how I try to avoid it. Callie says our column is getting boring because I get all sentimental and always look like the "good guy." Well, I can't help it honey. Sniff, sniff. It's the HORMONES!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Christmas very much this year. I'm stubborn enough to say that I don't want snowmen overtaking the house before the turkey comes out of the oven. But I won't put up much of a fight, though. And, as my cute and pregnant wife already said, I never win the fights anyway. So what's the use? Whoville, here we come.

Southeast Missourian online/special publications managing editor Callie Clark Miller will be decorating her home today for Christmas. Managing editor Bob Miller will be assisting her. You can reach them at cmiller@semissourian.com or bmiller@semissourian.com.

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