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RUTLEDGE: Christmas comes only once a year — ready or not

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

A week into December it hit me that something was missing at our house. Christmas spirit.

The next-door neighbors have installed festive lights and an inflated snowman. We don’t have so much as a wreath.

No tree. No lights. No big red bows.

Not a single jingle, as far as bells go.

So what or who is to blame?

■ The “phones”

It continues to boggle my mind that each member of my family now carries around a tiny device that is at once a telephone, messaging machine, stereo, television, theater, arcade, and computer.

Ditching cable was supposed to provide more family time and reduce screen time. All it really reduced is the screen size. Instead of gathering in front of the large screen in the living room, our three teenage daughters now isolate themselves in the personal viewing booths that are their bedrooms.

Didn’t they get those blasted phones for Christmas a few years ago? Bah! Humbug!

■ No “TV Guide”

Since we watch so little regular TV these days we’re not tuned in to the schedule or advertisements for those key Christmas-spirit triggers, the classic holiday specials: "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman." I can’t remember when I last watched one of those.

I suppose we could pull up “Rudolph” on our phones, but it wouldn’t be the same. Someone probably would call or text in the middle of “We Are Santa’s Elves.”

■ The dog

Dogs get blamed for all kinds of stuff. This is no exception. I cannot recall our dog, Max, ever being nearly as excited over Christmas as he gets when someone is snacking from a box of Cheez-Its. To him, Christmas morning is just a big bowl of distraction to get in the way of a potential belly rub.

I think Max might actually hate Christmas. No way that kind of attitude does not rub off on the rest of us.

■ The bug

That awful stomach virus that traveled back with us from the Ohio Thanksgiving was a real bummer. During the week that we traditionally bring home and decorate a tree, three of us were busy driving the porcelain bus. Nothing kills a festive feeling like “tossing the Christmas-colored M&Ms.”

■ The barn

While we are waiting for our new house to be constructed, most of our possessions, including the Christmas decorations, are stored in the barn at my mother’s farm. We are beyond ready to be able to find something without digging through boxes with one hand while holding a flashlight in the other.

■ My wife

Sharon traditionally initiates and carries out the Christmas decorating. She suffered the most during “bug” week, however. And she’s clomping around in an orthopedic boot because of a torn tendon in her foot. Not a good time for her to go poking around in a dark barn searching for the tree stand.

■ OK, it’s my fault

Blaming the stuff above is silly. If we’re going to have a tree, it’s up to me. I drive a pickup truck, for crying out loud.

I might even get a pair of reindeer antlers for Max to wear during the decorating. It won’t help him appreciate Christmas, but he’ll do anything for a Cheez-It.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.

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