AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: December 10, 2012 | COMMENTS: 12 Comments
This week I’m keepin’ it real by highlighting the distinctions between the family Christmas traditions I’ve envisioned, and the way they actually unfold. Enjoy!
Our family has a few annual Christmas traditions. These traditions all started out with the best of intentions. Make memories; spend quality family time together; squeeze every last drop of bliss out of our brood’s childhoods. Before these traditions started, I had visions of what they’d look like. One of them surrounded our Christmas tree. It would start with a stroll through an enchanted Christmas tree farm, all of us bundled in picture perfect winter apparel, sipping hot cocoa while ‘Pa’ yielded his mighty saw to bring down the perfectChristmas trees. As quickly as he cut it down, it would effortlessly tie itself to our car, and within in minutes, it would be in our Christmas tree stand….straight. Somehow, magically, it would adorn itself with lights, and minutes later I’d be sitting on the couch, carefully unwrapping each ornament while the boys and Mary Kate hung on my every word as to why each ornament was so special. By the end of the night, the children would be tucked into bed, and Sean and I would light a fire and cuddle down with a glass of wine and a cozy throw to admire our tree while it twinkled us into a long winter’s night.
Then I had real kids and reality hit… hard.
Some years our Christmas tree tradition has gone rather smoothly. Other years, not so much. It seems as the boys’ schedules have become more demanding and we practically doubled our family in size, pulling off this tradition has gotten to be somewhat of a production. A production with a rather lengthy blooper reel.
I should have known things were going to go a little south, when we arrived at the Christmas tree farm with two babies and only one pair of baby shoes and three baby socks. I swear on my life both one year olds were fully socked and shoed before we left, but after a desperate ransacking of my van (better known as the dumpster on wheels), it was determined that I either dreamt I put socks and shoes on both of them, or someone got hungry and ate a pair of size 4 leather Mary Janes and chased it with a white, ruffled cotton stocking.
Son of a Nutcracker.
Sean: Well, what are we going to do?
Me: Just put her foot in your pocket?
Sean: Seriously? Can I put my glove on her foot?
Me: Sure. Why the hell not?
I mean, I knew I was about to be crowned mother-of-the-year by all the other patrons for channeling my inner hill-billy and bringing a barefoot one year old to a Christmas tree farm, but at least the chances of her getting frost bite were somewhat negated by wearing a glove on her foot.
After we MacGyvered Isabella’s foot (we chose to make Isabella “glove foot” because she sports a little bit more baby fat. I felt guilty for gloving her foot, but it wasn’t like Sophie’s choice or anything. Perspective is important in these kinds of situations.) we headed off on our horse and buggy ride through the farm. This ride takes about ten minutes, but apparently, it seemed like an eternity to Ryan, which required an attitude adjustment via a private walk for Sean and Ry in the woods.
Once we had the tree, Sean insisted in helping the workers tie it to the roof our car. Because pine needles are pointy, Sean felt the need to wear one of his good leather gloves to help secure it to the roof top carrier. A process that ended in a twenty minute search, because he managed to lose said glove while tying the tree to the car.
Sean: I just had it? Where the hell did it go?
Me: Who the hell cares. Just get in the damn car and Santa will bring you a new pair.
To which he finally relented, but was convinced that someone…or something…had swooped our of the sky and stolen his beloved glove. That is until the boys were untying the tree from the car, and found that he’d knotted it with twine to the rooftop carrier.
A few hours later, our tree stood in the stand, in our family room, and was ready to be lit and decorated. Unfortunately, our time had run out. So, there it stood. No lights. No ornaments, for six days. This was perplexing for Mary Kate.
MK: Mommy. How come our tree isn’t decorated or doesn’t have lights like everyone else’s?
Me: We are letting the tree “breathe”.
Seemed like a better excuse than explaining to her that we are too damn busy to finish the task.
Finally, Thursday night, our schedules meshed, and we had a free hour to don the Christmas music, light a fire, and decorate. I assumed my position on the couch and started unwrapping the ornaments. Now, I do admit. We have a lot of ornaments. We collect them, and after twenty years of marriage, we’ve accrued quite an assortment. Unfortunately, that translates to time.
Ryan: How many tubs of these things do we have?
Drew: Three? Mom’s an ornament hoarder.
An ornament hoarder. My kid called me an onament hoarder. What the hell?
Nevertheless, we pressed on. I think the whole process took thirty minutes, but you’d think it had taken hours. Soon my eighteen year old was whining about a sore back, and Ryan was claiming to have mountains of homework. When I finally dismissed the moaners and groaners, I studied their work. Apparently they had ignored my requests regarding ornament placement as evidenced by this ornament orgy…
After practically redocrating the entire tree myself, I collapsed on the couch to admire our work. There was no fire. NO wine glass. Only me and my worn out old self. Not much had gone according to plan, but as I’ve learned (the hard way) over the past handful of years, nothing usually does. Still, our tree looked beautiful and I was happy.
I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned so far in life is that there is a distinct difference between the way I want my life to go and the way it actually goes. Traditions, like our Christmas tree, probably aren’t Norman Rockwell worthy, but they are real. Each time we try and tackle a family occasion, and things don’t go as planned, I have a choice: I can choose to be disappointed and stew on angry words and comments made out of frustration, or I can laugh, and thank God we had the opportunity to make a memory.
I choose the latter.