So then…she offers me a tray of hors d’oeuvres – little warm puff pastries of cheesy-mushroom goodness. I pop a puff and say, “Wow – what a great Christmas party, Angie. Your home is so beautifully decorated — and the food is delicious!”
It’s a genuine “grown-up” holiday party with Christmas carols playing in the background while we enjoy a dinner buffet, eggnog, and decorated Christmas cookies.
(I’m in my 20’s — so most of the parties I attend are just booze-soaked excuses for people to hook up – the biggest nod to the Christmas spirit might be stacking the red Solo cups next to the green Heineken bottles.)
Angie smiles and says, “Thank you. I’m so glad you guys could make it! I’ve heard a lot about you from Matt.”
She points to her husband Matt who’s at the bar with my boyfriend, so we wave.
Then Carla and Ed, the couple who drove with us to the party, join us in the living room.
Angie juggles her tray to give them a one-armed hug since they’ve known each other from back in New York.
Carla says, “Angie, the decorations are great! And this tree is amazing!”
We turn to gaze at the beautiful Christmas ornaments tucked into the branches amongst the twinkly lights. It really is gorgeous.
We all chat a bit, then Angie says she needs to return to the kitchen for more appetizers.
As soon as her back is turned, Ed plucks a snowman ornament from the tree and slips it in his pocket!
Just then Angie turns back around to ask if we want more wine. I’m so surprised, I can’t speak but Ed casually says, “No thanks, we’re good.”
When Angie turns her back again, Ed pulls out the snowman and tosses it to Carla who scoops it up and slips it into her purse!
I look to the left and look to the right – but the other partygoers haven’t seen the ornament hurtling through the air, so they just keep right on talking, laughing, and drinking.
I don’t know Carla and Ed very well, but I’m the only witness, so I feel compelled to hiss, “What the hell?”
Ed says nonchalantly, “Oh, it’s a tradition.”
I say, “What’s a tradition? Stealing an ornament is a tradition?”
Carla says, “Yeah. We do it at every Christmas party we attend.”
I furrow my brow. “Are you serious? You steal ornaments at every Christmas party you attend?”
Ed says, “Just one ornament.”
Carla shoots Ed a look like I’m the crazy one. “Yeah, just one ornament per party. Jeesh, Darcy.”
I sputter, “But, but, but…isn’t that wrong?”
My Catholic school-trained brain is about to overload. A) This is stealing. And B) This is stealing a decoration celebrating Jesus’ birthday! And C) THIS IS STEALING!
Carla waves her hand dismissively. “Oh, they’ll never miss it. Look how many ornaments they have! It’s just one little one.”
Oh My God, I’m pretty sure this is the same rationalization for heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity the world over.
“But what if it’s a special one – or they realize it’s missing?” I ask.
Ed says, “By the time people put their decorations away, they can’t remember every ornament.”
Carla concurs. “And besides, we never take a special one – like something personalized – like Baby’s First Christmas with the date on it — or like a touristy one from a vacation spot or something.”
Ed chimes in, “And we don’t take ones that look antique. We just take normal stuff like elves, Santas, angels, candy canes, penguins—”
Carla laughs, “Penguins! Oh my God, we have tons of penguins!”
Ed nods, sips his beer, and chuckles – “Tons of penguins!”
“What do you do with the ornaments?” I ask.
“Oh, we take them home and put them on our tree. We have quite a collection. Some really cool stuff. We’ve been doing this for years,” he says.
“Yeah,” says Carla, looking at Ed fondly. “Ever since we started dating.”
He smiles back at her. In their minds, this is simply a sweet little holiday tradition that they share.
To me, it borders on sacrilege! Their Christmas tree is laden with the profit of their sins! They’ve plundered the goodwill of their friends and neighbors to beautify their own home!
I ask, “But what happens when some of those people come to your house for a Christmas party? Won’t they see their ornaments on your tree and recognize them?!”
They look at me with bewilderment.
“Oh, we’d never have a party at our house,” says Carla.
“Yeah,” says Ed. “Someone might steal something.”
– Darcy Perdu
(Unlike Carla and Ed’s sacrilegious thievery — MY holiday traditions include cookies and milk for Santa who writes only in BLOCK letters, opening one gift on Christmas Eve, and lots of bouncy jingly Christmas Carols. What are some of YOUR Christmas traditions or funny holiday memories? Share them in the Comments Section!)