December 27
by Harris Green
My wife takes decorating for Christmas very seriously. It starts soon after Thanksgiving and winds down on New Year’s Day, known at our house as un-decorating day. She un-decorates while I watch bowl games. When she has to pass in front of the TV set, her staccato sandpiper gait slows down to a tortoise plod and she gives me a disdainful look that says, “How can you just sit there when all this work needs to be done.” The look is joined by a barely audible sigh. I parry the thrust by searching in my bowl of nuts for a cashew.

There are a few jobs I have to do, and she seems to need them just as the losing team gets a first down in the red zone and the crowd is going wild. One of these jobs is taking the ornament-free Christmas tree to the back of the lot to set up as a jungle gym for the birds. In all the years I’ve lugged the tree down the hill, I have never seen a single bird in the vicinity. My guess is that all the male birds are watching the game and the females are dreaming up jobs for them to do. Another of these urgent jobs is to take the truck tire-size wreath down from its perch above the garage door. If it were up to me, because it is so colorful, I would leave it up until about July Fourth.

Several years ago, her scurrying about when I was trying to relax prompted me to consider something I had just seen on “Wild Kingdom.” As part of a scientific research team, Marlin Perkins was stalking a pride of lions. They wanted to examine the health of the alpha female and were trying to bring her down with a tranquilizer gun. It took a while because she kept running off to discipline a cub or reprimand another lioness.

I told my wife that one of these days when she is in full sandpiper mode I am going to shoot her with a tranquilizer gun. While she is lying on the floor, conscious but completely immobile, I will check her teeth, weigh her, and staple a tag in her ear that reads, “On this date I took life easy.” Then I will lay her down on the sofa so she can rest until the drug wears off—and I can watch the bowl games in peace.

Read about Harris on the Writer’s Bios Page