Max is partial to ladders and handy man tools.
I am attracted to lights and sparkly things.
That is why we make a perfect team.
I remember a Christmas from a very, very, long, time ago.
The year was 1976 and I was going on twenty and living in Gardiner, Montana, with my husband, Jason.
Jason and I, and another friend, opened a bakery in a flourishing town that was located on the north entrance to Yellowstone Park.
It was all very exciting.
Especially since none of us could bake.
And what was even more exciting than watching that big mixer, was the first snow of the season.
"Whhooooo hoooo!" I hollered, as giant flakes fluttered past the glass phone booth I stood in, in the middle of nowhere, quickly dusting the brown foothills. I pushed in the Operator button, and made a collect call to my folks back in Wisconsin.
The very next morning we began to notice as we sat in our bakery that there were very few footprints in the fresh snow covering the sidewalks.
As the days passed we began to realize that there were not enough residents in Gardiner to buy enough donuts to make our bakery thrive.
And there certainly were not enough people to buy enough donuts to support my selfish longing for hot dogs, razor blades and a Christmas tree.
That also meant that there were absolutely not enough local donut lovers to support my deep yearning for lights, ornaments and dazzle, much less all the dog food and treats that our Irish Setter, Onyen, thought she had coming.
The reason that I am telling you all of this, is because this is where it began.
You see, Jason and Onyen and I, climbed into our sky blue and rust truck and we drove up Jardine mountain, where we spotted a nice tree, located at the top of a really tall tree.
Jason climbed up that tree and he cut off the tip.
Which we dragged to the back of the truck and brought home. Stuck it in a bucket of sand and lit a celebration pipe.
And then we popped and ate record amounts of popcorn.
For the next week, when we weren't kneading dough, dropping donuts into grease, or mixing batter, we sat around our living room listening to the fire crackle inside the wood burner, which we could clearly hear above the TV, that we didn't have.
And as we sat there staring, we strung bowls and bowls of stale popcorn onto miles and miles of thread.
Jason went all out and surprised me one afternoon with a big bag of dried red cranberries.
Finally we were ready.
We twirled our popcorn and cranberry garlands around that tree with our calloused and bandaged fingers.
And then, we sat back, admired our hard work and we listened to the crackling fire over the radio that we did not have.
The following day, after selling a couple of donuts and two pies to the diner, we returned home.
"Onyen," says Jason. "Did you see anyone messing with our Christmas tree?"
She looked off into the distance with her skinny nose and didn't say a word.
The next day after selling three donuts and a loaf of bread, we came home.
This time there was not a kernel of popcorn left on that tree about as far up as somebody about Onyen's height could have reached if that someone had climbed onto the chair that was situated next to the tree.
Onyen stared out the window and ignored our questions.
We never did solve the case.
But whoever stole our hard work, did not care for cranberries.
By that Christmas, only the very top of that tree was still swirled in white and red.
But it didn't matter.
We were all back in Wisconsin drinking Tom and Jerry's at Jason's parents' home, sitting out that penniless and cold Montana winter.
And speaking of Tom and Jerry's.
That brings me to an important tip.
It is very important to make yourself a Tom and Jerry before attempting to decorate for Christmas.
So, Max, why don't you say whatever it was that you wanted to say, while I go and get out the Brandy.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, Millie is full of shit.
She's a nice person and all, but she doesn't know anything about decorating.
First of all, ornaments are made to be interactive.
Otherwise, why do suppose they sparkle?
And how come they dangle?
Why else would they crash into all those little pieces?
They are obviously meant to be leapt at, swiped at and knocked to the ground.
And they don't even have to be full of glitter.
Loose chords and wires for instance can be a lot of fun to swing from.
And I prefer real trees that are really tall and real sturdy.
They should be stable enough to hold me and my brother, Morrie, if we decide to climb up to the top.
Morrie believes that all the pretty packages, with their ribbons and bows should be placed under the tree right away.
Morrie loves pretty things.
That guy can bat a package from the dining room to the basement.
His nickname is, The Shredder.
But that only happened when he used to get carried away with cat nip, before we got cut off.
Speaking of cat nip, here comes Millie with another mug full.
Thank you Maxwelle.
Now, where was I?
After the great popcorn debacle of 1976, I have only ever popped popcorn to eat.
Now, you know as well as I do, that as life moves on.
So do people.
People have children.
Children bring home cats, ferrets and caterpillars.
People get divorces.
People's kids have kids.
And before you know it your grandchildren have taken over your house.
It just goes on and on.
That is why one must be as flexible with holiday decorating as taking a Hot Yoga class.
For example, when your young children start cutting all those God-awful snowflakes out of typing paper, you must not only vacuum up all those little pieces from under your table, but you must also admire them and you must tape them in your front window.
But this is an important era.
This is when you will learn that you can spread out all of the ornaments that your offspring have placed together in a big pile on the same branch, as soon as they go to bed.
They will never notice.
If you have cats, make sure they are indoor outdoor cats.
That way they are not that thrilled about a tree standing in their living room.
Some felines, like Maxwelle Smarte and Morrie Amsterdam are strictly inside cats.
This makes them real pains in the asses.
Because they get so excited about every little thing in this condo.
They think that the gosh darn cords are toys.
For Christ's sake.
You will have to be very careful to hang all of your decorations in areas that they cannot reach.
Be sure to tape down all chords and wires with that clear strapping tape, or you will be sorry.
Do NOT put up a Christmas tree.
Don't even try it.
Not unless you want all the bulbs on the floor and a couple of cats staring at you from within.
Now, if you will excuse me.
It is time to prepare another Tom and Jerry.
Max, can you run the show for a few minutes?
Now you know what I meant about Millie.
After she and her sister Louisa, leave the condo today, my mom is going to go nuts trying to get her TV remote to work again.
Because they always block the receptor with angels or candles.
And my mom is going to start saying things like, "Oh Maxie, I cannot stand how that looks. Don't you think that snowman should be a little to the left? And Morrie! That big one is too big for that spot. Don't you think?"
Between you and me, I think Millie should lay off the Tom and Jerry's.
I once heard her friend Giselle tell a terrifying story about those things.
She called it, The Year of the Tom and Jerry.
I'm not sure if it was the tale of the time that her family went to that midnight mass and Giselle's father was falling asleep with that lit candle in his hand and all the wax was dripping into that lady's purse that was sitting on the pew in front of them or not. But the morning after the Year of the Tom and Jerry, Giselle mentioned that her cat had one helluva time making his way across their kitchen floor.
He lost his little pink paw prints that day; it was so sticky.
And don't think for one minute that that didn't hurt.
Hey, I was thinking that we should finish up our work.
Why don't you folks out there make yourselves a Tom and Jerry or two and get into the spirit.
After you are feeling it. Come on back and check out our handiwork.
Okay, folks, raise your cups.
Let us all sing together.
And a one.
And a two.
And a three.
Deck your balls with Max and Millie,
Tis the season to be silly,
Don't forget your great sombrero,
Bring your farting far side sparrow
Fa-la-la-la-la, la- La- La - LLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
That is the other reason she needs to lay off the Tom and Jerry's.