Designing Women

Evidence of the Decorating Talents of the Male Galeone

Evidence of the Decorating Talents of the Male Galeone

As I prepare to head home for two weeks of holiday fun, I am turning over the things we all relate with the holidays. Part of that is the feasting I will undertake, which will start upon my arrival and end as I lethargically wave a chubby hand at Newark International in early January.

But mostly I have been preparing for family time. This means I will have to dig into my bag of ‘creative truths’ to come up with new reasons for being single and not giving my mom grandchildren. It’s also a lot of Galeones in one place, which means alcohol (for me).

Part of this family craziness is the inevitable slave labor enforced by my mom upon every visit. Mom cooks and does laundry and I perform whatever task she comes up with.

But it’s the way it happens that sometimes irks me. As she’s leaving the house, she’ll stumble upon me hiding in the downstairs mud room, pressed against the wall, holding my breath, you know, just relaxing, and she’ll say my name in a pointed way.


It’s then I know that my life is about to get 9-11% more annoying.

She continues with an Emperor of Rome attitude as she outlines an arduous task with incongruous nonchalance. ‘I want you to bring the boxes from the attic to the dining room.’ And just like that, my day has gone from reading and relaxing to cursing, sweating, and carrying an inordinate number of boxes from one room in the house to another room in the house.

And I am never safe. No matter the time of year, there are tasks to be found.

At Christmas time, I spend a lot of time carrying things from her car to a room. One thing is certain, no matter the first room I carry stuff to (usually under orders), it is the wrong room. So then I pick it back up and move to the other place, until she can decide where it really belongs. There are so many tasks to be undertaken, but the worst one at Christmas is going to the basement and finding the Christmas decorations.

This is bad for two reasons.

In the first place, spending two hours digging around the basement for a box marked ‘Xmas Decs’ invites you into a land of frustration only achievable at the holidays. Additionally, our family is surprisingly bad at keeping Christmas decorations.

This was obvious even as I was growing up. Our decorations always amounted to a few glittery balls and a half eaten popcorn garland. This was mostly due to my brother and I, who, for some reason, seemed to spend a great deal of time gleefully employed in the destruction of the things which had decorated our tree. Balls. Lights. Popcorn garlands. Everything. Didn’t matter. If it was beautifully displayed on the tree, it needed to die.

We used balls as baseballs, lights as chain mail armor, and popcorn garlands were fed to the cat. Or dog. Or us. My brother and I slowly decimated a manger scene by recruiting its members to the ranks of GI Joe guys we played army with in the summer. Two of the three wise men were posthumously decorated for bravery in the third battle of 942 Edgewood Lane in 1989. Mary was a sniper, and the donkey and one of the sheep were enlisted to carry weapons.

We tried to covertly slip other figures into the scene, but our mother caught us when we tried to pass off a Troll Doll as a wise man. By the time I was seventeen, baby Jesus was celebrating his birth with only himself and a prone sheep.

The only time we worried about our aggression towards decorations was when my mom sent us to find them in early December. This was not lost on my mother, who began designating a trip to the store every other year rather than a trip to the basement.

But I even proved incapable of buying appropriate decorations. I came home one year with a box full of ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ decorations and another year with an entire box of Power Ranger decorations. On Christmas morning my father asked why we had decorated the tree with motorcycle racers.

Despite my hate-hate relationship with decorations, the main issue with being charged to buy or find them is that it’s part one of a two-part task, the second being: ‘now, decorate the living room and tree.’

The men in my family can’t decorate. We just can’t. We lack an instinct for visual aesthetics that bleeds into our entire lives. My dad has been strictly forbidden from buying us clothing, as he tended to choose things covered in designs so hideous that it blinded any onlookers, or which sported so many straps and buckles that it resembled a Medieval implement of torture. He once stained a picture frame a darker color and, so inspired by the results, walked around the house staining everything that was wooden. This included every chair, wooden picture frame, and railing he happened to mosey by. And since he failed to mention this artistic venture to anyone else living in the house, it also included hands, shirts, pants and jackets.

I am no better. I have been known to dress completely in monochrome, and have actually hung a picture inside of a larger picture because I thought it looked ‘neat.’ I Skype with my sister before I leave for a date so she can tell me how to dress like a person who understands how colors work.

Decorating is the worst. One night my father and I parlayed our artistic shortcomings with Bushmills, which resulted in a sideways Christmas tree decorated with microwave popcorn and a long string of red beans whose origin he refused to discuss. The rest of the living room resembled the recent explosion of a Christmas bomb: Santas, snowmen, angels, animals dressed up for Christmas.

Fortunately, my sister arrived and sent us to the kitchen so she could fix the problem. My sisters and mom acquired all of the family’s allotted talent regarding the visual arts. They all have an eye for fashion, interior decorating, and Christmas decorating. My sister Amanda will spend five minutes arranging a few decorations in the living room and will leave it looking like Hogwarts at Christmas. My sister Julia’s house looks like a cheery, yet tasteful, Macy’s Christmas window display.

These facts are not lost on my mother, but she will still order me to decorate the tree and living room. I think she has learned that my sisters can be talked more easily into fixing my decorating job than doing the whole thing from the start.

This Christmas, as usual, I will be relegated to the role of foreign manual laborer. I fulfill this role sometimes by cursing and swearing in Czech. Doubtless, I will be sent to the basement to find those decorations. And they somehow keep appearing, even multiplying every year. Maybe this year for old time’s sake, my brother and I will hit one to right field or enlist a few in the fictional military.

  1. #1 by Angela galeone on December 15, 2015 - 1:30 pm


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