Monday, November 30, 2009

O (No!) Christmas Tree

The last of the Thanksgiving turkey has been dumped into yet another casserole; the fall mums have turned brown and been tossed in the trash; and my children have updated their Santa wish list for the 734th time. I can't live in denial any longer. It's time to deck the halls with boughs of holly and all that crap.

Fa-la-la-la-laaaa! La-la-la-pbbbbbbllllllttttttt!

I'm sorry if I sound cynical during what should be a joyous season, but if you were here for last year's Christmas decorating fiasco, you would understand.

My husband's role in holiday decorating extends only to lugging the biggest boxes down from the attic and setting our Christmas tree in the stand. The rest he happily leaves in my hands, while he watches football games and ignores a Yosemite Sam-esque string of curse words as I wrestle with lights, wreaths and ornery gingerbread men.

Last year, I decided I would take a day and do the bulk of decorating while my husband was at work and the kids were in school. The children would be surprised and delighted to find a festive, holiday house when they returned home. I envisioned us sitting by a beautifully lit tree sipping hot cocoa and listening to Christmas carols while the children lovingly hung the ornaments. It was going to be so Normal Rockwell, ya'll.

Instead, the family came home to find me tangled in lights, lying in a mess of duct tape, nursing a knot on my noggin and crying about the evil, possessed Christmas decorations that were out to get me.

I don't know why Christmas turned on me. Perhaps it knew I ate the entire box of Little Debbie holiday snack cakes and blamed it on the kids when my husband inquired. Whatever the case, Christmas wasn't cooperating.

Each year, I dutifully check all the lights before I string them. I ensure that all the bulbs are lit and screwed in tight, and then I carefully plan how the female/male ends will meet around the tree so that I can plug them into the wiring of our 90-year-old house without causing a blackout in the neighborhood.

Earlier that morning, I checked and rechecked all the strands of lights and tossed those with missing bulbs. Then I carefully began to string them around our Fraser Fir. I love a well-lit, sparkling tree, so I painstakingly wove the lights around every branch of the evergreen, humming happily to myself as I did so.

After what seemed like forever, I finally reached the bottom of the tree. All I had to do was plug them into the wall outlet, and I could admire my twinkling tree while I set up the gingerbread village and decorated the rest of the house.

I reached over, plugged in the strand and … suffering son of a Santa! Only half of the tree was lit!

Discouraged but far from disgruntled, I checked all connections, and everything appeared to be in order. I rechecked the tiny bulbs, figuring one had come loose and shorted out a strand, but I couldn't find the culprit. There was only one thing to do: remove all the lights and restring the tree.

I gently removed the stands from each branch so I wouldn't strip all the pine needles. Then I tossed the bad strands and restrung the tree with the existing lights. It would mean fewer lights, but at this point, I was dreadfully behind schedule and couldn't wait to see my tree lit. I reached the bottom, plugged the lights in and... candy cane chaos! Only about half of the strands were lit again.

By this point, I wanted to strangle the damn tree, but I was on a mission. I decided all new lights were in order, so I drove to the nearest department store and bought several strands. By the time I returned home, it was nearly time for the kiddos to return from school. I knew I'd better work on another Christmas project for sanity's sake.

To heck with the tree! I would decorate the fireplace instead. I grabbed an armful of thick garlands and attempted several times to drape them from my fireplace with the tiny hooks I had so carefully installed underneath the mantle. Unfortunately, the garlands were in cahoots with the lights and wouldn't cooperate, either. The clock was ticking, and I was still standing in a mess of Christmas boxes in the living room. Desperate times call for desperate measures, friends. After 30 minutes of stuffing, twisting, weaving and wrestling the garlands, I turned to the redneck staple: duct tape. Yes, that's right. If my father can reattach the driver's side mirror to his truck with duct tape, then by gosh, I can use the tape to decorate for Christmas. Jesus understands.

Once the garland was secured under the mantle with half a roll of tape, I hoisted a giant wreath I had bedecked in ribbons and Christmas ornaments and hung it from a hook over the fireplace. As I stood back to admire my handiwork, the heavy wreath -- no doubt encouraged by the vengeful tree and garlands - somehow jumped off the wall and landed on my head. I think I heard the tree snicker, but maybe that was the result of my minor concussion.

At this point, I plopped myself down in the middle of the boxes, the garlands, the tape and the stands of lights and cried. That's how my children found me.

Bless their dear little hearts. Maybe they were only trying to get on Santa's good side, but they encouraged me to continue decorating the tree with their help. With my sweet elves, I found the strength to string the lights for the third time. When I reached the bottom of the tree, we all held our breath while I reached over to plug them in… Glory, Glory Hallelujah! The lights worked! The tree was lit at long last!

My Christmas spirit once again restored, I encouraged the children to decorate the evergreen with all of their favorite family ornaments. Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra crooned classic carols while the kids chose the ideal spots on the tree for little Santa Claus ornaments, icicles and snowflakes. Before long, the tree was full of our treasures, and all I had to do was place the traditional angel on top to complete it.

I pulled up a ladder and cautiously placed the angel in her rightful place. Then I climbed down, and we all stood back to admire our tree.

"Oooooooh," my son said.

"Ahhhhhh," my daughter said.


The tree was leaning precariously toward us. It couldn't… It wouldn't….

Sure enough, the entire tree came crashing down, scattering ornaments all over the living room.

As the children stood in shock, I grabbed my purse and headed to the nearest liquor store. At the end of the night, I wasn't so much filled with the Christmas spirit as I was wine. And plenty of it.

In honor of The Day Christmas Hated Me, I reworked the lyrics to the classic Christmas carol, O Christmas Tree. They are best enjoyed with a glass of wine -- and professional Christmas decorators:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Do you exist -- to torment me?
I picked you out
To bring me glee
Instead you bring-eth misery
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Where the hell's my wine glass?

I strung the lights, that wouldn't glow
Three times it took
You mock me so
This is really ma-king Christmas blow
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Where the hell's my wine glass?

When finally lit, you stood so tall
The last ornament
Would finish it all …
SON OF A &%$#! Did my tree just fall?
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Where the hell's my wine glass?


  1. Thanks for the 5:30am smile (again).

  2. i recall parts of this story well, jenn... as mosses would have said, "well, bless your heart!" i hope first time will be a charm this year:b
    d xxxx

  3. Thankfully, this year's decorating went smoothly; however, I think my Christmas calamities are contagious. I ran into my aunt and gave her a hug, and she went home to find her Christmas tree had collapsed. Oopsie.