We are in the home-stretch of the trifuckta – Halloween, Thanksgiving and Chrismakkuh. Yes, the holidays are great. They are awe-inspiring and wondrous. They are fun, but, they are also incredibly, utterly exhausting. October through December is like a presidential term. You cram 15 pounds of living into a 5 pound bag; meanwhile, all of your delegates hate you and ask for things you couldn’t provide even if you wanted to. And, most of the time you have no interest in providing anything at all because the delegates are always screaming. No one wants to give screaming people a damn thing. So, we exit the term looking 15 years older and possibly with a drinking problem or, we retreat after a highly publicized scandal when you fly off the handle at a PTA meeting after setting a budget spreadsheet on fire. I mean, allegedly.
I have decorated for every holiday. The main ingredient I use to make it all really dazzling is love. The second ingredient is screaming, “Don’t touch ANYTHING!” over and over again – losing it just enough to make them properly dysfunctional for their future families. It’s a tough job, but, somebody has to do it.
Yesterday, we got the tree. We put it in our house. We put on the lights. Everyone cried. Today, we put on the ornaments with friends, we had hot chocolate and…yep, everyone cried.
We made paper rings. They cried.
I bought the gingerbread house and…you guessed it, everyone cried. It wasn’t the village. How dare I not get the village? Insert “it takes a village!” joke here.
I made macaroni and cheese – their favorite! I put turkey in it – they cried.
Effort and tears. Effort and tears. It’s the story of my life or, a really good name for a Lilith Fair compilation CD.
Norman Rockwell’s images are deployed by my neurons every year. I want the smiling faces around a tree. The soft, warm living room – slippers and cocoa while a quiet snow falls covering bare branches. I want something that doesn’t exist. Because life moves and children cry and ornaments hang lopsided. Life isn’t perfect – ever. Not even around a fat, jolly tree. Finally, I’m starting to accept this.
This is the first year I did not re-decorate the tree after the children went to sleep. I left it in “as is condition”. This afternoon, they approached with their ornaments as if rabid. Flying paper and in 15 minutes it was done. I left it full of holes – some limbs heavy and some untouched. The most hideous ornaments are proudly gathered up front while the gorgeous, heirlooms hang hidden on the back. A crumpled tree skirt and a very visible extension cord. Normal Rockwell doesn’t live here, but, we do. And this is what our Christmas looks like. Heavy branches, lots of tears and a frazzled mother doing the best she can to live inside our reality.
When they look back, I just want them to be able to say, “It wasn’t picture perfect, but, we loved it anyway.” And, “Someone get mom a drink before she redecorates the tree.”
Merry, Happy Everything.