On the first day, my true love gave to me…

… a 12-foot Fraser fir that we decked in tinsel and glitz and orbs and flashing artificial colors, like a Vegas showgirl. We celebrated by snuggling under a blanket on the couch. We smooched. We shared an ice-cold Coca-Cola.

On the second day…

… trillions of vicious stinging insects hatched from a hidden nest inside the Fraser fir. They filled the house. The air turned black and buzzed. We cowered in terror under a blanket on the couch. We called 911. Until help came, we survived on rationed sips of ice-cold Coca-Cola. We shared Cokes with rescue personnel.

On the third day…

… our online order arrived! A delivery truck pulled up and uncrated 12 drummers, 11 pipers, 10 leaping lords, nine ladies dancing, eight milkmaids, seven swans, six inert geese, five onion rings (thank goodness for a free returns policy), four squawking birds, three mustachioed hens with berets and paint palettes, two slow-moving doves, a Hong Kong partridge/pear tree holiday centerpiece… and a case of ice-cold Coca-Cola.

On the fourth day…

… we ran out into the yard and made a six-pack of snowmen the exact right size and shape to fit into tall glasses. We poured Coca-Cola over the snowmen, watching it rise to their knees, rise to their bellybuttons, rise to their eyes … look, it’s global warming, y’all! … and then we drank them! Snowca-cola! Yum!

On the fifth day…

… braced by an ice-cold Coca-Cola, I dressed as a reindeer for a neighborhood theater production. A reindeer suit is hot and smelly, and those antlers weigh a hundred pounds each. Rudolph guided Santa’s sleigh that night, but I was not Rudolph. If you are any reindeer but Rudolph, the scenery never changes.

On the sixth day…

… we carefully constructed a Santa trap in the living room. We placed it in front of the fireplace, where the jolly old rascal would first stick his white beard out after sliding down our chimney. We built the trap with mattress coils, a brassiere, three throw pillows, a folding ladder, and a big sticky pool of maple syrup. How do you bait a Santa trap? Leave out a well-lit bottle of ice-cold Coca-Cola and a can of sardines. We made plans to check our Santa trap once every hour on Christmas Eve.

On the seventh day…

… we opened the refrigerator and brought out the bird with the toe tag – the leftover Thanksgiving turkey – and made cold turkey sandwiches with the last slices. For the thirteenth time, we toasted sourdough bread. We spread mayonnaise without guilt. We forked on dill pickle and placed carefully chosen leaves of crisp lettuce. We put turkey on the sourdough slices and clapped them together. We poured tall glasses of ice-cold Coca-Cola. We drank the Coca-Cola. We fed the turkey sandwiches to the cat.

On the eighth day…

… we went caroling around the neighborhood. We took flasks of ice-cold Coca-Cola. Nobody knew all the words to the carols, so everyone sang fa-la-la-la-la until one of the carolers switched over to a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom, and then we all changed to oo-ee-oo-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang, and then finally closed out the night with na-na-na-na hey-hey goodbye, except for the neighbors from Alabama. They sang “Free Bird.”

On the ninth day…

… our Jewish friends called us over. They lit the last Hanukkah candle in the Menorah and served us cold leftover kosher turkey sandwiches on kosher rye bread with kosher dills, and we drank ice-cold Coca-Cola and played Twister, and the losers had to tell online dating disaster stories. Someone yelled, Call McNair a cab!, and somebody yelled back, Okay, McNair’s a cab! When we finally made it home, we had the munchies … and we saw ice-cold Coca-Cola and a can of sardines gleaming in front of the fireplace…

On the tenth day…

… the fire department chopped down our front door and used high-pressure hoses and the jaws of life to free us from our own Santa trap. We shared Cokes with rescue personnel.

On the eleventh day…

… we wrapped presents. We used enough red-and-green paper to cover a space shuttle, plus seven miles of ribbon. But then I couldn’t remember which wrapped present held the super-strong deodorant for my Cousin Queenie and which held the back brace for Uncle Mudlark… or the sack of prunes for my Aunt Plushbottom or the orange-and-blue crying towel for my friend Nick or the photographs of ice-cold Coca-Cola for my buddy Arson, who just gets one soft drink a day in the place he’s staying for a while. It took all night and seven more miles of ribbon to wrap my gifts a second time.

On the twelfth through the one-hundredth-twelfth day…

… we left our Fraser fir standing. It looked so darned good, and we had gone to such pains to decorate it and endure its stings. We treated it like an exchange student. We took away all the Christmas frou-frou and let it drink from its own water bowl (filled on special occasions with ice-cold Coca-Cola). On Groundhog Day, we decorated its branches with sunlight-intolerant rodents. Twelve days later, we decked it out with big red schlocky paper valentines. A month later came shamrocks, for St. Patrick’s Day. The tree still looked great at Easter, so we trimmed it with colored eggs, marshmallow biddies, and chocolate rabbits. Finally, on the last ice-cold night of the year, we sent the Fraser fir to be with Santa (who escaped our trap). Sprig by sprig, bough by bough, we fed the tree to the fireplace… and up the chimney it rose. Our holiday season ended merry and bright at last… and may yours be merry and bright too. 

 

Charles McNair, a native of Alabama, lives and writes in Bogota, Colombia. He's the author of two novels, Land O' Goshen and Pickett's Charge.