Christmas column brings holiday ire

September 02, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

Good morning and Merry Christmas. Hope you got everything you wanted and the cloud seeders didn't ruin your hopes for some of that good, old-fashioned white stuff.

Wait, what the ...? Not Christmas, but Labor Day? Why that can't be right. It has to be Christmas, and I can prove it because just last week, on AUG. 28 we received a CHRISTMAS CATALOG from the MORONS at Better Homes and Gardens.

Don't push me, Better Homes and Gardens, don't push me. If you - if any of you trinket-peddling, goodie-pushing, decorating-idea fostering, tinsel-grubbing, plum-pudding-faced jerks send me ONE MORE Christmas-related publication prior to Columbus Day, I CANNOT be held responsible for my actions.

Better Homes? You want a better home, I'll give you a better home. Take your entire advertising staff and hang them in front of the hearth.


Remember, not so very long ago, when it was a scandal for any decorations to go up before Thanksgiving? Then the whole month of November was fair game and when the Halloween barrier was broken, we started seeing elf-related store displays all through October. Now, heck, they've just leapfrogged September altogether and shamelessly stampeded right into August.

Better Homes and Gardens is pitching some sort of 2002 Christmas "idea" book in which you can find all kinds of new tacky-trashy ways to decorate your trailer and feed all the belly-scratching males in your family in between six-packs.

You've got to love this gem: "Color coordinate your cookies by adding cranberries and pistachios to yummy Christmas Biscotti."

Please. If some Twinkie-addicted chick is into matching her cookies to her vinyl tablecloth, she probably ain't gonna know Biscotti from bucatini, if you know what I'm saying. She'll end up with pistachios in her pasta.

And I can only shake my head ruefully at their idea of decoration: "Trim unexpected areas of your home with fragrant floral kissing balls ... Brighten your mantel with a sugarplum swag fashioned from colorful beads, balls, baubles and bows."

There's a photo of this swag-covered mantel, and I don't know how to describe it other than to say it looks a bit like Serena Williams is on fire.

I'm also a little vague on what an "unexpected area of your home" is. I suppose if you have teenage boys, that would be the shower. I think I speak for many men, though, in saying we're not real big on surprise decorations. If I open my sock drawer to find some fragrant floral kissing balls, they're going in the trash.

Juxtaposed in this brochure against "Spectacular Decorating Ideas!" is, no lie, a "word game decoration" that consists of two Scrabble trays with the words "seasons" and "greetings."

They spell out "seasons greetings" in Scrabble and call it spectacular? Something tells me the folks at Better Homes and Gardens just aren't putting the effort into their productions as they used to.

"Hey, wake up, you guys. It's 10 minutes until this has to go to the printers and we're still short one spectacular idea."

"Who cares? Spell out 'seasons greetings' on a stinkin' Scrabble board, for all I care."

"Works for me."

Another sign that they wanted to go home early is this earth-mover: "Bake cheese cracker bases ... before partygoers arrive. Then let them top the snacks any way they choose."

I bet Martha Stewart is furious that she missed out on this one. She's probably screaming at her staff right now: "Come ON, people! Cheese and crackers! How come none of you chuckleheads were able to come up with that one? Cheese and crackers as a snack! That's a GREAT idea, and now Better Homes has first-mover status. What am I PAYING you people for?"

This is a sad but true story. I had the Better Homes and Gardens brochure in here at work so I could snarl at it, when the Supreme Decorator walked by and said "Hey, what are you doing with that? That has a lot of neat ideas - don't lose it, I want to order that book."

If anyone wants me, I'll be under my desk.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. You can phone him at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or e-mail him at

The Herald-Mail Articles