God bless the people who have the time, energy, and desire to open their homes to the public for a Christmas Tour of Homes. As economists might say, they're Doing The Job That Normal Americans Just Won't Do.
Yes, the majority of us are (a) overworked, (b) packrats or (c) determined to get our money's worth out of that sofa we paid $50 for. We would be too self-conscious to let the public traipse through our humble abode. As someone who knows less about pealing silver bells than peeling wallpaper, I know I would get songs stuck in my head ("...and every mother's child is going to spy/to see whether dust bunnies really know how to fly"). Not only would "visions of kleptomaniacs" dance in my head, but "visions of kleptomaniacs bringing my junk back" would dance in my head.
Certainly people from all walks of life are welcome to host a Christmas tour, but the prime candidates are couples whose kids are grown, whose grandkids need Secret Service authorization to visit, and whose pets have been laminated.
But it's not just for empty-nesters. There are ways for typical families to throw up a winning Yuletide fašade. ("D-daddy, will the real Rover be coming back after the Tour of Homes is over?" "Of course, but what's it to you? You're not the real Timmy. You're just a midget we hired to impersonate him. You method actors will drive me crazy yet!")
Google the term "Christmas Tour of Homes" and you'll find colorful press releases from communities nationwide, extolling the style and historical significance of the tour homes. At some of these intimidating sites, treaties were signed, Nobel laureates were conceived, nuclear bomb prototypes were exploded. Most of us generic-home types are more likely to have plaques announcing "Adjustable rate mortgage exploded on this spot, July 21, 2008."
You don't have to be rich to be a Tour of Homes host, but a lot of the participants do tend to be bankers, lawyers, executives, heiresses, etc. This can lead to some awkward moments. ("Sorry I turned down your loan for a kidney transplant, Sam. Here, have some eggnog -- if you brought any collateral.")
I'm sure the host families take much satisfaction in inspiring their visitors to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The only problem is that in 2009 that focus takes the form of thinking "I wonder if Tiger Woods would choose to give his girlfriends gold or frankincense or myrrh?"
Being human, the hosts revel in the good will they earn in the community, but I suspect merrymakers are making observations such as "Wonder which one will get what if they divorce?" or "250,000 multicolored lights and not a single dim bulb. If only you could say the same thing about their children..."
In the final analysis, I guess it's just a matter of priorities. Anyone can clean up, decorate and exude joviality if they are willing to make the same sacrifices and tough choices as the Tour of Homes folks. ("It's just a sucking chest wound. I have popcorn balls to string before I can waste time on a doctor. I feel the Christmas spirit in my heart. I can't feel anything in my legs, but I feel the Christmas spirit in my...CRASH! BANG! JANGLE!")
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.