Tag Archives: Christmas decorating

Off with His Head!

Jack guest blogs today on the perils of Scotsmen decorating under the direction of their American wives.

I come from a country that doesn’t decorate itself for Christmas to quite the extent that Big Stone Gap (and the rest of America) goes in for. External decorations are virtually non-existent in Scotland, and internals don’t get put up until the week beforehand.

Thus I have always harumphed in a Scrooge-like way when instructed by Wendy to haul “the Christmas stuff” down from the attic. Our compromise is to wait until Dec. 1—our neighbors have their bright flashing festoons in place Thanskgiving Night—before installing Rudolphus in the front yard.

Rudolphus we purchased a few years ago, in a flush of enthusiasm on Wendy’s part not entirely shared by me, but I like it when she’s happy, so home he came–a white deer with head bowed “as if reading a book” said Wendy in the shop, clapping her hands with glee.IMG_3457


Our compromise then was to not have him lit up – more of a wire sculpture alongside our growing collection of other yard art, such as the giant ampersand and the post-modern ironic toilet bowl of petunias. I made Rudolphus a pair of spectacles and a red nose, and posed him each year reading an appropriate (and annually different) book.

This year I finally succumbed, though, and strung a power cord though the garage, out the window and across to ye olde Rudy. Switching on the power I discovered that, while his torso shown brilliantly, his neck and head refused to emit even a glimmer of light—headless, as if he’d pissed off a Tudor King.

A quick examination revealed a severed wire, like no other I’d ever seen. Some kind of impregnated central core instead of the expected copper refused all my attempts to reconnect it.

So there Rudolphus sits in half-hearted celebratory condition, determined (it would seem) to continue the Welch-Beck decorating compromise: his heart in the US and his head in Scotland.

And yes, he is reading Wendy’s book.



Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, VA

The All-Season Greeting Display, or How Lazy People Decorate a Bookshop

With all the other things there are to do in the bookshop, Jack and I have decided we’re never expending energy decorating for a holiday again. Instead we set up the All-Season Happiness Display.

We will just move the yellow sticky with an arrow pointing to the appropriate seasonal cheer item.

We think this will catch on quickly. It’s really the lazy version of not taking your tree down,  but we won’t have to string Hearts, Shamrocks, Bunnies and the rest throughout the year. All we have to do is move the sticky arrow.

Yes, we know we should patent it, but we want the rest of humanity to benefit from our genius.

Also, lest any of you judge us for our … shall we say, conservation of personal energy, we do wish to point out that the shop IS ready for Christmas, Hanukkah and the rest. (Belated Eid Mubarak to our friends back in the UK.) We’ve looked out all our Christmas items, no matter how… bizarre. Cozy murder mysteries with titles like “Mad as the Dickens” and “‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas” and even a DVD called “Santa’s Slay” grace our shelves.

No, I’m not making that up. Look at the picture. Or don’t; it might give you nightmares.

So we feel well-decorated with books, and the rather odd DVD or two, and the place smells like Christmas thanks to Heather’s homemade candles. Come Christmas, come whatever, we are ready.

Except maybe for that Santa Slay guy….


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA