Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why is There a Gorilla in Our Living Room Every Christmas?

On the eve of Christmas Eve, Nick and I are taking a break from our dinner party preparations. It's quiet, except for the sound of something thrashing around inside the clothes dryer. The windy rain has momentarily stopped.

And there's a gorilla in our living room.

Any reasonable person might ask, "Why is there a gorilla in your living room?" The unreasonable answer is, "He visits us  every Christmas."

About nine years ago, Nick and I threw a big anti-Christmas Christmas party built around the theme of a Tahitian disco. It's not that we dislike Christmas; it's the same-old-same-old Christmas decorations we'd grown tired of. So we bought two faux palm trees with white lights in them to serve as our Christmas tree, with a leopard-print sheet wrapped around their base. (Leopard print, in my opinion, is suitable for any occasion, especially Christmas.)

We pulled out white ceiling lights and replaced them with green, blue, and yellow bulbs. We bought a big disco ball and hung it from the ceiling. Our dining area monkey chandelier dripped with plastic leis. Paper pineapples proliferated, to the extent that our living room resembled a tiny Dole plantation. We didn't go over the top, because there was no top for us to go over.

The party was a hit. We held onto all the decorations. And every Christmas since then, we bring out a subset of them to transform our living room into a Tiki hut.

About a month ago, we came to a crossroads. While cleaning out our garage, we pulled out our traditional faux Christmas tree. We hadn't used it since 2003, the year of our big Tahitian party. It was taking up space. So the question arose: Keep it or donate it? After the briefest of pauses, we looked at each other and added the traditional Christmas tree to our Salvation Army pile.

Oh yes, you're wondering about the gorilla.

He's a life-sized cardboard cutout that Nick discovered in a party shop when buying decorations for our Tahitian disco. Every Christmas, he is unfolded and propped up to silently witness the shenanigans around him. He is ingeniously named "Christmas Gorilla."
Christmas Gorilla
The first day or so after Christmas Gorilla returns, he invariably startles us. About a week ago, I came into the kitchen late at night to get a glass of water, saw the big dark shape, and jumped. Nick has had similar episodes.

On a few occasions, Christmas Gorilla has come out at other times of the year. When a close friend of ours was recuperating in the hospital from surgery, Christmas Gorilla went with us to visit her. Even the nurse, who had presumably seen many strange things in her line of work, took a look at our friend and said, "I've seen some jackasses in the hospital before but never a gorilla."

On New Year's Day, we fold Christmas Gorilla, wrap him back up in black garbage bags, and store him behind a tall Japanese tansu. The Tiki hut is transformed back into a living room, and another year begins.

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  1. I'm loving some Christmas Gorilla!!! Merry Christmas to both you and Nick!

    1. Same to you and your family, Colleen! xoxo Jim

  2. The thing I enjoy so much about Christmas is the traditions that people follow. Whether it is a Christmas tree that hangs from the ceiling (at my house) or a gorilla in the living room; next to the pineapple. These things scream Christmas, because they come from your heart(s).

    May I suggest you treat Christmas Gorilla like a paper doll, and find him some outfits to wear throughout the year? I bet he would look great dressed up for St. Patrick's Day?

    Merry Christmas to you, Nick and CG. xxx

    1. GREAT idea, Judi! Merry Christmas to you and your family. xoxo Jim, Nick, CG

  3. Jim,
    I saw your story at the perfect time. Christmas is so much about the memories you make.
    I hope you and Nick have a great day tomorrow.


    1. Thanks Tim, hope you're having a great holiday!

  4. "Leopard print, in my opinion, is suitable for any occasion..." Well, I certainly hope that you have suitable shoes to go with it... ;-)

    I absolutely love your Christmas tradition. The Tahitian theme is perfect and the gorilla is a wonderful witness of Christmases past! I am a firm believer that Christmas is meant to be spent where it is sunny and warm. Turning up the heat and putting up the Christmas Gorilla and the pineapple plantation forest is just the ticket!

    1. Thanks Will. I used to have some shoes with a bit of leopard on them and after about 15 years of wearing them on special occasions, I foolishly donated them. I want them back!

  5. I like your story. Christmas is so much about the memories you make.
    I extremely love your Christmas tradition. The Tahitian premise is perfect and the gorilla is a wonderful witness of Christmases history.