My Little Helper: A Cautionary Christmas Tale

Only rookies make rookie mistakes.

Or so they say.

Believe me, I am no rookie. I am a well seasoned spouse with decades of experience, yet I did what I did anyway.

We had just finished with Christmas decorations.

The ornaments hung safely from the tree. Mary and Joseph waited patiently by the manger and tinsel dappled the walls with reflected glow.

All was well.


I blame the hot chocolate.

Okay, I blame the peppermint schnapps I used to spike the hot chocolate. Surely, it was that. But whatever the excuse, I should have known better.

I asked, “Is there anything else you want done?”

She placed an index finger on her chin and pondered. “Let me think…is there anything else that needs to be done?”

As the milliseconds ticked slowly by and my stomach dropped into free-fall, I realized I had violated everything I learned in all my years of marriage. I asked an open-ended question.

“Why yes, there is,” she said, “You can finish painting the living room.”

Oh please, not that!

Our half painted living room has stood as a bulwark against the onslaught of other projects ever since we moved into our house four years ago.

I began painting it the first week we moved in.  At the time, I was eager to have the job done until she said…

“I am not sure about the shade.”

There was no difference between the new and the old paint other than the name. Something like Sun-bleached Straw versus Light Wheat. So I abandoned the project until she could make up her mind.

Still it remained undone.

But here is the thing, whenever she asked me to do anything else, like to install the knob on the bathroom door or to fix the crack in the kitchen ceiling, I could always fall back on, “I’ll get to that after the living room but first you will have to settle on the color.”

This time she stunned me. “Use what you have,” she said.

I began to sputter, but then she really stunned me.

“I’ll help,” she said.


There are some things a couple should never do together and painting tops that list.

The only thing close is hanging wallpaper.

I knew I had been beat. I made a mistake and had to pay the price, so the next day I rummaged under the stairs for a dust covered can of Sun-bleached Straw and got to work.

“Oh, you painted the living room,” she exclaimed upon coming home from work.

“I did.”

“But I wanted to help,” she said in a voice that might contain disappointment had not her motives been known.

“You can help with something else,” I told her.

“Great!” she said, “I’ll help you fix the bathroom door and repair the crack in the kitchen wall and….”

Drat!  I did it again.

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