The Great Tinsel Wars


The three-year tinsel wars ended in a very unusual way with my brothers and me getting grounded, Mom getting a new vacuum cleaner, and Bob Hope getting out of our house forever. Just why we all got into trouble I don’t have a clue.

As dad was leaving for work, he gave us our instructions for the day, “When you hang the tinsel, you boys do it one strand at a time. Make sure you include your sister.” And that’s exactly what we did. If you ask me us getting punished was really unfair, but you be the judge, Dear Reader.

To tinsel or not to tinsel, that was the question when Dad left for work. He wanted all of it done by the time he returned at noon. When it came to placement of tinsel, to say my Dad was picky would be like saying Santa was jolly and loved cookies.

Instead of the logical way, throwing it all on handfuls at a time, he made us place each strand one at a time! For the last two Christmases it had taken hours and hours to decorate the living room tree, but this year it only took five minutes. That’s how long it took us to remember what Dad had said, “Make sure you include your sister — and use all the tinsel.”

With The Sister’s help, and another painstaking five minutes later, we decided we were done. Only a small area was finished, but we were done with placing strands of tinsel on the tree. Now we had a problem.

On the floor still were two full boxes of tinsel with a picture of Bob Hope dressed as Santa on the front. He had endorsed the tinsel, so it had to be the very best. Dad said use all of it. Who were we to say no to Bob and Dad?

We worked for another hour, before Dad got back home. Us four boys had emptied those two boxes in record time, and carefully placed each strand one by one. But we still got into trouble! It proved to us that you can do everything right, but still be wrong.

It had turned really cold outside and Dad had forgotten his coat, so he returned home to get it. Walking into the living room, he took one look at us, and then to the almost tinseless tree, and to our surprise, he didn’t say a word. Instead, a big smile slowly crept its way across his face as he got his coat from the hall closet. Walking back through the living room he paused for a moment giving us boys some new instructions as he looked at The Sister standing next to the tree, “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear this morning, boys. Place all the tinsel, one strand at a time, on the tree.”

We never got into trouble for what we did that morning, it’s what we did that afternoon that got us grounded. After we finished the tree, Older Brother Richard had found another box of tinsel. All afternoon we chased each other through the house while throwing tinsel on each other and no, not one strand at a time. We threw handfuls of that silver stuff at each other.

In our defense, we got Mom’s new vacuum out trying to suck it all up. And it worked for a little while until the tinsel got wrapped around the roller and belt. Then the vacuum strangely stopped working and smelt like burnt plastic.

Dad came home to an entire house smelling like burnt plastic, a new vacuum cleaner totally destroyed, a tinseless daughter, and a Christmas tree completely decorated with one strand at a time Bob Hope-endorsed silver tinsel.

Now you be the judge, Dear Reader, should we have gotten into trouble? Merry Christmas from The Wife and me.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]