Santa, Please Bring Me Some Patience

by Abby on December 5, 2011

Nutcracker, missing an arm and his hatYes, the holiday season is magical. No, there is nothing like the joy and wonder in a child’s eyes as he awakens on Christmas morning to find that Santa has visited. I know it won’t be long before I have to drag my teenagers out of bed at noon on Christmas day and force them to eat pancakes and open presents with their parents. I realize this festive and holy season is not about stuff or decorations or perfection, but about our loved ones and the babe who was born in a manger. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let me tell you about my weekend.

My 5yo has been pestering us incessantly to get a tree and put up our decorations. As strenuously as I argued that Christmas doesn’t begin until the 25th, MAYBE the 24th, not the day after Thanksgiving like our entire culture and neighborhood of uber-eager holiday decorators seem to think, my protests fell on deaf ears. Fine. By the 12th day of Christmas, our tree will be nothing more than a handful of dried-out needles clinging to a parched trunk, but fine. We’ll put up our tree.

So we go to the tree place, and after debating the merits of Frasier vs. Douglas fir and how big is too big, we get our tree. By the time we get it home and set up in the stand, it’s bedtime and there’s already a fine dusting of pine needles throughout the living room I vacuumed earlier that day.

The next day, the sun is not even up when the kids begin clamoring to decorate it. But first, I must locate the lights and ornaments in the basement. I drag the boxes upstairs, and the kids have torn them all open before I’ve even found the extension cords. The toddler starts pulling out strings of lights, which I’d painstakingly sorted into individual bundles the previous year. Soon, they’re knotted and tangled, and my husband steps on a string with his size-11 1/2 foot, crushing the glass bulbs. Bring out the vacuum again.

Halfway around the tree, we realize that we don’t have enough lights to finish. C. runs down to the corner store to buy two more strings of lights. This happens every year. It’s a mystery what happens to all those extra lights between Jan. and Dec. When he comes back, we realize the new lights don’t plug end-to-end like the old ones. This requires an elaborate network of extension cords.

Next, we string up the ribbon garland, only to realize – again – that we don’t have enough to cover the entire tree. We try various configurations and various types of ribbon, none of them acceptable to anyone. I have no Martha Stewart illusions, but I do strive for a step up from Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Meanwhile, the boys have started fighting with the nutcrackers as if they are Batman action figures. One nutcracker gets scalped and loses an arm.

I run to Walgreens, then Party City for more ribbon. No luck. I attempt to sneak out to Michael’s solo, but the kids are on to me. I try in vain to convince them to go grocery shopping with Dad instead, but no luck. At the craft store, we find ribbon and a huge line. I reward the boys for their patience by letting them each pick out an ornament. They choose plastic, multicolored, glitter-encrusted globes. Awesome.

Homemade ornaments on the Christmas treeBack home, we pull out the rest of the ornaments and get to work. Clumps of reindeer and Santas congregate on the lower branches. Hideous, glue-laden homemade creations are spotlighted front and center. A couple of angels with sentimental value plummet to the floor. Glitter and pine needles are everywhere.

During this very, very lengthy, arduous process, I may or may not have screamed “Get OUT of here!! You’re RUINING it!!” I may or may not have hurled bunches of half-burnt-out lights at my husband. I may or may not have stomped out the room and slammed doors. I DID finish the day with a yoga class and a large glass of wine. The magic of the Christmas season, indeed.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello December 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

Just think, you get to not only take it all down in a month, you get to do it all over again next year. Oh Joy!

We did our tree and decorations this weekend and it actually went fairly well. The lovely Miss Teresa and I have always had artificial trees, two in 27 years so they are always packed away with “loving care”?? and easily assembled the following year. I define easily as something just short of chaos.

We don’t have lights or garland issues any more as we bought enough to do 10 trees a couple of years ago after having a similar situation to yours. We string the lights together and the incidental strangulation is always funny afterwards. Picture me on the ladder reaching around the tree with the lights and poor Miss TK trying to circle around below without being caught up in the mess. Inevitably, she manages to wind up with lights around her neck, I. of course, being a gentleman, keep my snickers and guffaws to a minimum, HA!

We did all the other decorations around the house yesterday and now we have nutcrackers, snowmen, Santas, stockings all over the place. We also have one other nice thing we do, 27 Reed & Barton silver bells that are engraved with each year we have been together since 1985 and they are placed on the steps going upstairs.
We look a them fondly and decide to not kill each other one more year. :))


Abby December 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

I did consider the artificial tree, I have to admit. But I would definitely get a pre-lit one. Struggling with the lights is the worst part of the whole thing. Strangling your loved ones on Christmas is never a good thing. 😉 I love your tradition of the silver bells!


Jennifer December 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm

We broke down and got a pre-lit tree about four years ago. No, it doesn’t smell all homey and Christmassy. No, it isn’t quite as pretty. I mean, it’s fine. It’s pretty. It just doesn’t have a lot of character.

But you know, there are definite advantages. It doesn’t shed needles and it’s not hard to set up. My dad usually sets it up for me in about five minutes on Thanksgiving night, so I don’t even have to do that. We’ve saved money on having a fake tree now that we’ve had it for a few years. We don’t have to figure out where and how to recycle it or haul it anywhere after the holidays.

I do miss the smell of a real tree, though.


Adrienne Gomer December 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I did all of the holiday decorating this year while my husband sat on the couch trying to wrangle our 2.5 year old daughter to just sit quietly and watch Diego with him. No luck. Sign me up for the yoga and wine please 🙂


Frume Sarah December 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I just don’t think I could handle the stress of decorating. With Chanukah, all I’ve got to do is pull out the menorahs. toss a few dreidels on the table, and call it a day.


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