I prefer a real tree, but this year we decided we’d conserve resources and put up an old fake tree we haven’t used in about 5 years (Nick is on the “Go Green” committee at school, and he’s already all over my case for not using recycled wrapping paper).
The kids had been begging to put the tree up. Even though it had been a long day at the office (and the last thing I felt like doing was decorating a tree), I decided to give in. Doug had to run a few errands when I got home from work, and I decided to forge ahead without him. I put on some Christmas music and poured a glass of red wine. After all, how hard could it be?
As we pulled the fake tree out of the box, I realized the branches were completely smashed. Not only did we have to put them together one by one, we had to untangle the needles from twisted branches with our bare hands, and I thought my fingers were going to bleed. I decided to put on gloves.
Finally, it was time to put the lights on. I told the kids to make sure each string was working before connecting the lights to what was quickly becoming a tangled mess. I soon realized we had started with the wrong end, so the kids untangled the lights, and we started all over.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally strung the lights around the tree a second time (this time with the plug at the right end) and plugged in. But only half the tree lit up.
Nick declared that this was the worst Christmas tree ever. At this point, my blood started to boil. Where was Doug when I needed him? I told the kids, “no one touch the tree.” But no one listened, and everyone was arguing over who failed to detect the broken light string. So I screamed, “everyone, out of here!”
Now alone, I pulled the lights off the tree and sat in the middle of the living room trying to untangle the lights a third time. Once I had a string ready, I called for the kids. “Your job is to each take one string into the other room and test it.”
As they were testing the lights, I heard Anna scream, “NO!” Then Abby started crying. I ran in the other room and asked, “What happened?”
Nick yelled, “Abby just ate one of the lights!” I looked over at Abby, and she was chewing.
“Honey, Mommy told you to test it, not eat it!”
Anna kept screaming, “we’re going to have to take her to the hospital.” Nick couldn’t watch.
I yelled again, “shut your mouths and please just pray.” I pulled a couple of chunks of glass out of Abby’s mouth and gave her a big glass of water to wash the rest down. Nick and Anna’s prayers must have worked, because after that last gulp of water, she quickly settled.
Nick suggested, “Would it make you happy if we went downstairs and played princesses on the Wii?” Abby flashed a big smile, and the three of them went to play Wii while I finished decorating the tree.
At least I could put the Christmas music back on and work in peace. But isn’t decorating a tree supposed to be a magical moment with the family? By the time Doug got home, I finally had things under control, but I was still bitter. Why do I forget what Christmas is really about and let the little things get the best of me?
What about this holiday season is getting the best of you?