It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That must mean that we are deep into the stress-zone. That means we’ve gotten to the inside of the house and we’re about to…
#5. Decorate the tree. Here’s where a lot of people differ in their stress levels with Christmas decorating. The tree and the rest of your house is your safe zone. You can go as nuts or as minimal as you want, and most likely, the only people who will know are your family members (unless you’re having a crazy Christmas party, but that’s a different blog). But of course, most of us just can’t throw up a plastic, pre-lit tree, slap some ornaments on it and call it a day. Oh no…you have to have the whole tree “experience”—you’ve decided that your family will adopt the tradition of cutting down your own Christmas tree. So you will pick a day to go trekking through the woods at one of these “cut down your own tree place” and load your whole family, including Grandma with her broken hip, into your car to do it. You will inevitably pick the coldest day of the year and one of your children will immediately lose their gloves as you crunch through the snow in the tree…grove (meadow? forest?). As you argue with your spouse about which tree to pick, your other child will have to go to the bathroom, even though you told them there would be no place to go to the bathroom. You will have to take them behind a tree to pee and they will discover the joy of peeing in the snow. As they try to write their name in the snow, you will lie to them and tell them that their wee-wee will freeze and fall off if they don’t put it away. An unsuspecting family will be crossing your path just as you announce this and they will give you a dirty look as they cover their own precious child’s ears. You cringe and pretend to be really interested in the tree that you are standing next to. Your spouse, who is really tired of looking at trees already, takes this as a sign to cut that tree down. You make the kids smile and take a picture next to the felled tree. You will drag that tree back to your car and realize it is bigger than the top of your car. Your spouse will curse and grunt and groan while securing the tree to the top of the car because he is not going to go back and cut another one. The nice man who takes your money will offer to help, once the tree is 95% secured to the car. You will resist the urge to flip him off. You drive back home and sit in traffic with all the millions of families that cut down their trees that day. You will be so tired after the excursion that all you want to do is take a nap afterward, but you can’t because you’ve got to get the damn tree in the house.
You and your spouse take turns dragging the tree in the house and succeed to lose 10% of the needles all over the front porch. Your hands are now ripped to shreds and full of sap. You get the tree in the house and discover that it is taller than the ceiling. The tree gets dragged back outside to have half the stump cut off. The tree gets dragged back inside (breaking a lamp in the process) and you discover the stump is now too wide for your tree stand. Your spouse curses as he attempts to shave down the stump without dragging the tree outside. You hyperventilate as you see how many needles fall off the tree and how much sawdust is being created by this activity.
Finally, seven hours later, the tree is in its stand and ready to be decorated. All of your family has abandoned you to go nap. You grumble as you turn on Christmas music, trying to get in the holiday spirit. You put the lights on the tree, (replicating the outdoor light fiasco), drag the ornaments down from the attic and start placing them carefully on the tree, reminiscing about the origin of each one. As tears fill your eyes when you get to the baby ornaments, suddenly the children have taken an interest in the tree and want to “help”. You cringe as they rip the delicate balls from their homes and fill the bottom of the tree. After they go into the other room, you have to move all the ornaments to higher ground where the cat/ dog/baby cannot reach them. Plus, you suffer from Perfect Placement Disorder and the way the kids decorated is actually causing shivers up your spine. As you admire your work and pour some wine, you catch the dog eating a tree branch which he promptly vomits on the carpet. While you’re cleaning that up, the kids yell that the cat is in one of the upper branches of the tree, batting one of your favorite ornaments. You scream as it falls and shatters upon impact. You clean up the glass and pour another glass of wine. Your spouse asks what’s for dinner and you shove the phone at him and tell him to order pizza TO BE DELIVERED because this simple act of tree decorating has taken ten and a half hours and you are BEAT.
I have a confession to make. We didn’t do this part. We didn’t do it because it sounds horrendous to me. We didn’t go to the woods or even to a Christmas tree lot to get our tree. In fact, I didn’t even put my tree up this year. I paid my 12 year old to put it up. Yup…my tree is so simple to assemble that a 12 year old, who can’t find her shoes that are right in front of her, can put it up. My tree is so simple that my 16 year old can get it down from the attic in August and set it up while I’m at the mall so when I come home there’s a tree and Christmas music playing in my living room (yes, this actually happened…see photo below):
Do yourselves a favor. Stop tromping through the woods and the Christmas tree lots and torturing yourselves. Put up the fake, pre-lit tree, bribe your kids to throw on a few ornaments, stick a tree scented candle on the mantle, sit back with a glass of eggnog, and ENJOY. It’ll still feel like Christmas…I swear.