I woke up last Saturday with mulligrubs.
Have you ever had the mulligrubs? That's when you feel like the back side of 12-day-old cheese for no real reason. Take my word for it. It's not a good way to feel.
I actually have no idea why I woke up that way Saturday. Maybe it was because it was my daddy's birthday. He was born on the first day of December in 1911. He's been gone 20 years now and I still miss him.
Maybe it was because two-thirds of my children were away at school. I had almost gotten used to them being gone and then they were home for a week at Thanksgiving, and I got used to having them around. I didn't have time to miss them during the week but I did Saturday morning.
Maybe it was all those cars I had seen arriving in Atlanta Thursday and Friday flying orange flags and purple flags instead of red and black flags.
Whatever the reason, I woke up with the mulligrubs.
My cure? I intended to spend a couple of hours in front of the fireplace drinking coffee and reading - followed by several more hours watching football on television.
Unfortunately, for me at least, I neglected to clear the cure with my lovely wife, Lisa. She had other plans for me and as everyone knows, Lisa is like Lola from the Broadway musical "Damn Yankees."What Lisa wants, Lisa gets. And Lisa wanted me to decorate the house for Christmas.
Now when Lisa says she wants to decorate the house for Christmas, what she really means is she wants me to decorate the house while she supervises. After 25 Christmases together, I knew there was no need to argue, so I left the warmth of the fireside and began bringing boxes down from the attic, my mulligrubs getting exponentially worse with each trip.
Eventually, I got around to placing the wreaths and bows on our outside windows, which involves tall ladders, Windex and paper towels, hammers and nails and a lot of whining and complaining.
Let's put it this way. I wasn't exactly in the Christmas spirit.
In fact, I was having my own personal pity party on the top of that ladder, thinking about all the things I had rather be doing and about how my back and legs ached from carrying all the decorations down the stairs.
And then, to make matters worse, our youngest child, Jenna, came by and advised me that I needed to "hurry up" because she had places to go and things to do, and I was supposed to be her personal driver for the day.
At that precise moment, I carelessly drove a tack into my little finger, drawing a tiny bit of blood and causing me to use some very blue language, for which Jenna soundly scolded me.
Being the understanding and loving father that I am, I told her to "be quiet and get me something to drink."
I angrily went back to my chores and she headed toward the shed behind the house. A few moments later she showed back up, carrying my old cane fishing pole. Attached to one end was a dirty sponge from the kitchen, soaked in apple cider vinegar. The symbolism wasn't lost on yours truly. In fact, it hit me like a ton of bricks. What's that old expression? "A little child shall lead them."
As I stood on that rickety ladder, 20 feet above the ground, I thought about how Christ's shoulders must have ached from carrying that cross up to Calvary and as I looked at the tiny puncture wound in my finger, I thought about the nails that were driven through his hands.
I was reminded that the red bows on the wreaths I was hanging represented the blood of Christ and that the greenery represented eternal life, and that the candles in the windows represented the light of the world.
And you know what? My mulligrubs just sort of faded away as I began to think about the reason for the season for which we were decorating - "we" still meaning me, of course.
Just a guess here, but I bet I am not the only person among us who will come down with a serious case of the mulligrubs this holiday season. After all, there is so much to do and so little time in which to do it - gifts to buy and food to cook and windows to be cleaned.
But take it from me. If you begin to suffer from that same malady, take a sponge-full of vinegar and whistle a Christmas tune. You'll feel better in no time.