Okay ladies, it’s that time again. Time to shave your legs, put on those ridiculous reindeer sweaters and purchase your tickets for the annual Holiday Home Tour. Don’t feign ignorance with me. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Every city has one, sponsored by some kind of Ladies Auxiliary or another, and it typically features a stately historic home that has been elaborately decorated, right down to the holly entwined in the light fixtures, and the wreath around the commode seat. It’s enough to make you sick. But not enough to keep you from showing up.
As usual we are greeted at the door by an impeccably groomed, blue-haired docent. "Welcome, ladies, to the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. Beaufort Winfrances the Third,” she says. "The house was built in 1823, and has been in the Winfrances family for five generations.” The aroma of cinnamon-clove apples and fresh evergreen fills our noses. Every surface of every piece of furniture is covered with garlands and cranberries and pinecones. There are even poinsettias in the bathtub. This is going to be great!
We follow our guide into the parlor. "This table”, she says, "was the actual table at which the Bill of Rights was signed. These chairs were brought over on the Mayflower from England, and are upholstered in the original fabric.” We gasp in unison.
She continues, "Mr. Winfrances’ grandmother hand-hooked this rug. It depicts each of the battles of the Revolutionary War. The silver on the table was a wedding gift to Mrs. Winfrances’ great-great-great grandmother by Paul Revere himself! Note the clever way she has tied each spoon handle with a sprig of tiny grape leaves to match the pattern in the wallpaper.” Collectively we ooh.
The massive Christmas tree in the family room sparkles with twinkling candles. "The Winfrances children learned to blow glass at a very young age”, our guide tells us, "and they made each one of the ornaments on the tree.” I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to feel faint.
For fully an hour we learn how the family has collected music boxes from every foreign country they’ve visited (127 at last count), and how the stockings on the mantle contain wool from their very own sheep farm in New Zealand. Don’t these people ever do anything NORMAL? I’ve got to get out of here!
Within five minutes I’m in my car, and I know right where I’m going - to my own house. I meet myself at the door and say, "Welcome to the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. Marc Lewis the First. The house was purchased in 1984, and the mortgage will not be paid off for five generations.” The aroma of oven cleaner and over-ripe bananas fills my nose. Every surface of every piece of furniture is covered with junk mail and Oreo cookie crumbs and dust. There are wet towels in the bathtub. This is going to be...
I follow myself into the living room. "This table”, I say, "is the actual table at which the bill to the Electric Company was signed. These chairs were brought over on a Mayflower moving van from the storage barn and have been re-upholstered three times.” I gasp.
I continue, "The builder of the house put in this carpet. Its stains depict each of the battles in house-training the family dog. The pots and pans in the kitchen were a wedding gift to Mrs. Lewis and are genuine Revere Ware. Note the clever way she has melted the handles by putting them under the broiler, to match the rest of the utensils in her kitchen”. Collectively I ooh.
The artificial Christmas tree in the den sparkles with two strands of lights. "The Lewis children learned to spray-paint macaroni at a very young age”, I tell me, "and they made each one of the ornaments on the tree.” I’m beginning to feel faint.
For fully an hour I tell myself how the family has collected hotel shampoo from every Holiday Inn they’ve visited (36 at last count), and how the stockings on the mantle were bought at a K-Mart in a suburb of Houston. Doesn’t this family ever do anything EXCITING? I’ve got to get out of here!
Within five minutes I’m in my car, and I know right where I’m going. I’m going on my very own Holiday Tour of the Mall, where I shall purchase a lovely wreath for my commode seat. After all, the Ladies Auxiliary may want to put my home on the tour next year and I’ve got to be ready. Want me to get you a ticket?