I have a Christmas Dinosaur. I have a Christmas Dinosaur.
When I found out a Christmas Dinosaur existed at Home Depot, finding him became the first Christmas Mission of the season. Because that’s what Christmas is—a series of missions, feats you must pull off, and other tiny miracles you must perform. Remember, the first Christmas was also a feat, a miracle. A leap of faith. They say God is in the details. Maybe it’s in finding that one perfect gift. Maybe it’s in surviving that ungodly trip to the mall—or surviving the parking lot. Untangling the Christmas lights is a miracle in itself. Or that moment you finally adjust the tree perfectly in the stand. A beat. You take a breath. It doesn’t lean. Believe.
Finding the Christmas Dinosaur wasn’t easy. The first Home Depot was sold out. I briefly entertained thoughts of getting the 30-inch, 150-Light acrylic Santa Pig. But as awesome as a Santa Pig is, it’s no Christmas Dinosaur. Then I made a pair of misguided stops at Lowe’s and Kmart—no Christmas Dinosaurs to be found. Nor were there any at the next two Home Depots I tried. Even the floor models were sold. Up until this point, I had still been unsure about the Christmas Dinosaur. I didn’t know if I really wanted it. I just wanted to look at it. Decide. Think it over. Sleep on it. But now that I knew it was a hot item, I NEEDED IT. NO MORE QUESTIONS. A TWENTY-MILE DRIVE TO ANOTHER HOME DEPOT IN ANOTHER TOWN? NO PROBLEM.
Finally, I found one, and I was so elated, I didn’t bother with the mental gymnastics it should take to justify dropping SIXTY DOLLARS on a wire frame covered in tinsel. Whatever. Here’s my Mastercard. Seriously, this thing was more than a Christmas dinosaur. It was a Christmas trophy.
When I got it home to the wife, she was equally as excited. It’s the freaking Christmas Dinosaur. Christmas Mission Accomplished. Then I had to mention what I spent. “It was sixty dollars,” I said grimly, although not in a regretful tone, but rather a resigned one. An inescapable fact of life. It’s cold and raining. Our football team lost. I was dreaming I’d won the lottery and then I woke up. The wife intuitively understood. She nodded and sighed.
The first red flag should have been the words “some assembly required.” Three simple words say so much. Somehow I had expected the contents of the box to be more than a wire frame covered in a threadbare cloth, but that’s exactly what it was—in seven pieces that required being held together by plastic zip ties. Let me type that again. Plastic zip ties. For sixty dollars, you don’t get something that easily snaps together. No, you get something that you have to MacGyver together with zip ties.
Oh, and it’s a two-person job, but the instructions don’t tell you that, nor do they tell you how to align the pieces or where to even begin. So just begin by just throwing the instructions out. Also, be prepared to fight with your significant other, because this is the kind of thing that causes those kinds of fights. You know, the ones where you are both kneeling on the ground in the front yard accusing the other of being the one who is holding up the piece wrong.
CAN YOU HOLD IT A LITTLE BETTER? YOUR HAND IS IN THE WAY. ARE YOU HOLDING IT OR WHAT? I CAN’T SEE WHAT I’M DOING. YOU KNOW I WANTED TO GO TO OLD NAVY AND THIS IS CO-OPTING MY TIME RIGHT NOW. HOW COME EVERYTHING YOU WANT HAS TO TAKE PRIORITY OVER THINGS I WANT. HOW THE HELL DO YOU TIE THIS THING TOGETHER?
Those kinds of fights. But this is what is marriage about, working together to build shoddily-constructed yard decorations. And it’s what Christmas is about. The Christmas Dinosaur gives and then he gives some more.
And he also gives presents to baby Jesus:
In years past, I’ve been hesitant about loading up our front yard with tacky 1980s plastic figurines and animatronic light-up dinosaurs because IT’S A VERY REASONABLE THING TO BE HESITANT ABOUT. But also because it’s a bit vague about how much of the small patch of grass in front of our duplex is actually mine. But I’m pretty sure it’s all mine because I raked both sides. And actually, even though it looks like Joseph and Santa are awfully close to encroaching on the neighbors’ side of the lawn, they’re well within the invisible line of decency I mentally drew between our properties.
In other words, I have no shame. But I don’t care. I have a Christmas Dinosaur. I have a Christmas Dinosaur.