How the Tree Stole Christmas

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As the season approaches us once again…I am faced with the choice to embrace or resist.

I have been labeled the scrooge, the grinch…the mom with no Christmas Spirit.  And it all goes back to that dumb tree.

I think I got a selfie stick this year….and its the first year in our new farmhouse with the new tree!

When I was growing up I saw the same scenes play out in my home when the holidays rolled around.  My mom was so stressed out making Thanksgiving dinner that you didn’t want to speak to her or be around her (and my mom is a really really nice person!!) Looking back now, I know why!  She slaved in that kitchen for HOURS with no help at all.  She had 4 kids an a husband and not one of us lifted a finger to help.  Of course, I don’t think she asked either, but I should have known better (and hope I’m raising my kids to pitch in without being asked).  All that prep, all the dishes, all the money….only to have everyone gobble it down and then leave the table to watch football or hunt….leaving mom to clean up.  Man, that sounds miserable just typing it.  I’m also ashamed typing it.

Then Christmas comes.

Cora and Aly at our old farmhouse…with the new fake tree.

Christmas brings much much more than joy and peace on earth.  In fact, it seems to be the opposite.  More like anxiety and chaos in bundles.  Trying to decide how much money to spend, where the money is coming from and then who you are going to buy for take up alot of our emotional energy.  The sales and advertisements tell us to go go go , spend spend spend and charge charge charge.  Bigger.  Better. More more more!  You want to do something special for your kids and family but you don’t want to break the bank or go overboard.  You toss around in your brain all the sensibles ideas vs the ideas that tell us that it’s a special day and it only comes once a year and to just go for it.

Honestly, all that is simple compared to that darn tree!

One of our traditions in our family is the Twelve Days of Christmas.  We use simple holidays activities in our home and outside of your home to put a little extra twist of fun on the upcoming festivity in order to add interest and enjoyment to the occasion without adding extra cost.  One of those events would be getting a tree.  Most people do it, but if you call it Day 1 or Day 5 and add cocoa and candy canes the excitement level skyrockets and you move up the ladder of Parent of the Year.  It’s so simple.  But is it really?  We would go cut the tree (once at night by lantern light) and bring it home and have cocoa and cookies while I started (or continued ) to stress about how to get that 4′ diameter, dirty, wet tree, into our home with a 36″ doorway…without making a mess or leaving a trail.  Now, ladies, I am not a clean freak but I just don’t go with the flow very well and this would get my panties all up in a bunch.

Mark would have to get it in it’s stand, straight.  This could take a while…if we even had any idea where the dumb (real advanced Junie B Jones vocabulary here) stand was in the first place.  Then the kids would be super excited to put the ornaments on and get this shrub perfected.  We are missing a major step here.  The one that makes moms go crazy.  The one that made my mom crazy and the one that makes me get all bent out of shape.  The lights.

You have to put the lights on.  I don’t know about you but I have never had a space where I can put my tree in the middle of a room and walk around it.  I have never had a Christmas where lights decided not to work and I have never had a tree I could easily reach to the top of.  So all I asked was that everyone leave me alone until I get the lights on.  My husband could not understand why it was such a big deal and why it made me come unglued, unbalanced, mad as a hatter, bonkers!  Honestly, to look back on it, I’m sure I sounded ridiculous but at the time it was a really big deal.  We had some really bad, drag out arguments and fights over those overpriced pine trees and their lights.  It was enough to cause anxiety well before the trunk was cut.  Don’t even get me started on the take down and disassembling of the tree.  Its like being left in the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn’t wait to get that dry fire starter out of my house so I could spend hours, days, and even months picking pine needles out of my carpet. (please insert large amounts of sarcasm here)

Elf came to visit…with his cup of syrup.

Did you know it’s okay to break tradition?

It’s so okay!  If it means your sanity, finding joy at a joyful time, and actually spending satisfying time with your family vs. a wrestling match with the cheaply produced mini lights….then take it!  Do it!!  Jump at the chance.

So 5 years ago I went to K-mart (yes, we still had them and they ran the best sale I could find at the moment) and I bought a pre-lit 7′ Christmas Tree.

Aaaah.  It was so pleasurable to open a box and set up my tree up in three pieces. I connected plugs and then inserted the end into my wall socket and just like magic, Christmas began.


I was all by myself when this happened.  It was wonderful.  I was like discovering the genie in the bottle.  It was as if  everyone had been keeping  a secret from me, except it wasn’t a secret.  I was so stuck on doing things the old fashion way and keeping tradition that the answer to most of my holiday stress was right in front of me!  In boxes…in every store across the nation.

My husband wasn’t keen on the idea, he likes doing the manly hunt with the saw and such but this was so much better for everyone all the way around.  Oh, and the take down!!  Take off ornaments and fold that baby up, pack in box, and lug to the basement for 11 months and repeat.

Of course, some of the lights don’t light anymore and I have to add a string, but it’s still so much better and all I really have to do is go buy another one on sale after the holiday shopping madness stops and stores are trying to clear stock so they can start advertising Valentines day to us in hopes of taking more of our hard earned money. Easy peasey.

Now, if I can just figure out how to spend the least amount of money on the best gifts…I will have conquered the chaos of Christmas.  In the meantime, I will charge on and you can enjoy some cute photos I pulled up from some of our other 12 Days of Christmas Events I found on my computer.  I would LOVE to hear your favorite tradition and maybe even vent about what stresses you the most and how are you combating it.  I’m sure we can relate.

Christmas cookies and Caroling with our best friends. Aly loves the frosting!

Mr Long (my elementary principle and my best friends father in law) reads stories to the kids after we carol. Even though they are way too old. They love it.

Getting ready to carol…the kids are so little!

We always go downtown to ice skate. Here we invited cousin Christopher.

The Jesus cakes makes it appearance every year.

The ugly Christmas Sweater on the cutest kid possible. (He won!)

Sledding with cousins from out of state.

My cutey elf Aly. Love those freckles.

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