Christmas Hoarders With Borders

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(previously published in The Kansas City Star on December 11, 2016)

Are you or a loved one overwhelmed by the decorations in your house? Are you able to skip through a path lined with stuffed Santas and reindeer in your front hall?

If you’ve ever been tied up so severely by the ankles with electrical cords at the beginning of December, you too, may be a Christmas Hoarder – or have other issues I’m not willing to discuss in print. Ahem!

My affinity for the red, green and sparkly started out simply when I was single. It’s almost Christmas and my choices were to sit alone by the CD player and cry to the empty sound of carols echoing through my quiet home, or to drown myself in eggnog and the 50 types of cookies I picked up after work.

Instead, I realized I could keep myself busy and in a festive, cheery mood if I decorated with authority.

For many years, I avoided reality with my shiny, twinkling, well-glittered collections. I skipped the light fandango while draping everything nailed down in boughs of holly. A glorious sight of winter themed rooms was my 1,100 square foot house. I was proud to be among the countless Christmas collectors, waving my festive Hoarder flag with pride.

Actually, I didn’t quite have a problem until I was married and had kids. The kid thing threw me over the edge into décor pandemonium. I lost all control probably by the time my girls were toddlers. I mean who wouldn’t love to live at a Midwestern North Pole?

My wonderful family and friends had an easy time deciding what gift to get me. My husband spoiled me with near life-sized Santas as Christmas presents.

We’ve been married for 13 years. You do the math.

My addiction recently came to a halt. If you are wondering what in the world could stop a crazy woman so abruptly, you’ve never had a Goldendoodle puppy. As I’m writing this I’m glancing into the cutest shaggy face covered in grass clippings and coffee grounds.

Playing in compost is awesome!

If anyone thought I’d lost my mind over the holidays before, you were wrong. This knee-jerked purchase has been the worst decision affecting my family’s winter holiday. Even worse than the 2010 gravy disaster! Now I love my dog, so don’t push the PEETA speed dial just yet. But I have the freedom in this country to speak my mind and tell anyone within earshot about the disastrous puppy who stole Christmas.

Her name is Bella Luna, which means beautiful moon in Italian. We should have named her Carpe Bella, then maybe we’d be able to have a Christmas tree this year. I know many of you might be thinking, “Build a wall!” That’s just stupid. Then we wouldn’t be able to see our beautiful symbol of light.

I can hear you yelling, “Don’t put the ornaments near the bottom!”

I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. She’s not a cat and won’t gently bat at glass balls and other family heirlooms. She’d eat them for breakfast! Actually, my husband, the dude who’s into lights, had one of his new illuminations demolished by the dog even before adding it to his Clark Griswold extravaganza. (Shh! He has a problem, but you didn’t hear it from me.)

Since we like to dwell on our misery, we have finally come up with a plan. No, Dad we aren’t going to hang it from the ceiling as you suggested! We will move the puppy’s metal fenced playpen to surround the tree and toss the presents over the top. Not exactly what this Christmas hoarder desires, but at least my disorder has been stopped.

Packing away crates still filled with unseen Santas and reindeer may not be the worst thing in the world. At least cleanup will be a lot faster in January!

Dinner for Two? I Think Not

I have been a little preoccupied chasing trash trucks (literally) in my pajayjays with no support (mind you) on the icy sidewalks of Hades, with a bag of smelly Christmas trash in hand and perhaps a monetary tip for the driver (you lose, dude!); hence, this story previously published on my blog last summer will keep things going until I rip a new one about my snowy, slippery bouncing episode avoiding cranial abrasions and black eyes from running full force with the “girls” doing the mambo in my jammie top. Happy New Year and (spoiler alert) I might have killed Santa in our yard.

Shield your eyes kids. Santa is looking bad!

Shield your eyes kids. Santa is looking bad!

previously published in The Kansas City Star – July 8, 2012
Stacey Hatton Commentary

Recently I received the most peculiar invitation in the mail. This gem contained complimentary admission tickets “good for two” persons for FREE FOOD! Now with the hunger crisis widespread throughout our country, why on earth were they trying to give ME and my date a free meal?

At first I was keyed up by the prospect of someone wanting to award me something, especially if that “something” might include perhaps ice cream; but then I remembered a prophet telling me, “No one gives out ice cream for free, unless they want something in return.”

So I called my mother, who is the oldest person I talk to on a regular basis, so that puts her closest to prophet status. I asked her, “Do you think this free meal is some kind of a scheme?” Being that she is a savvy retired elementary school educator, she asked, “Who sent these tickets to you, my child?”

I turned back to the not-so-fine print (actually it was in bold, italicized and about a 32-point font). A first warning I may need to slow down a bit in life, or else bump up to the next level on my classy CVS reader glasses.

This is when I should have hung up the phone or claimed I had the wrong number; but I had already announced to my mother who I was, called her by name, and discussed who was coming to a family get-together. So I’m pretty sure she recognized my voice.

I tried to cough, sneeze and mumble at the same time, “A funeral home.”

Although, since she is my mother and can understand every word of mine even if I had all my teeth knocked out and my lips sewn shut, she blurted, “How did you get on THEIR list?”

“Weight Watchers, I can only assume,” I sighed as if receiving an unsatisfactory mark on my report card.

Then to add salt & vinegar potato chips to my wounds, she laughed, “I haven’t even had a funeral home send me invitations yet!” Nice. Coming from a woman who happens to be substantially older than me.

Our conversation morphed into what we thought should be on the menu for such an event to discuss “final-arrangement planning.” Whole grapes? Big chunks of hotdogs? Or would they go the cholesterol-laden route … triple cheeseburgers and a side’s bar of anything fried? We both assumed a fruit and veggie tray wasn’t going to be part of this artery clogging affair.

Since we were on the subject of dying, I thought it an appropriate transition to inform her I had accidentally killed the Cecropia caterpillars she had given my children. The science project for the summer was over after one week. Fuzzy and Wuzzy wuz no more.Caterpillar on a bush.

Too bad the funeral homes don’t take caterpillars. My daughters would have loved a nice service for their beloved 7-day inch-long friends. However, I do have these two complimentary tickets from experts who “want to ease my family’s emotional burden.” Maybe I’ll give them a call…