I love Christmas. All the twinkling, sparkling, glittering, jingling, pine-scented things are wonderful, and I cannot have enough of them (along with all baked goods) in my face. Things like garland and tree skirts have a catnip-like effect on me (what, you don’t roll around on the floor covered in garland?)
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we get our tree (yes, we do wait until AFTER Thanksgiving). We tie that sucker to the roof of our car Griswold-style, and Christmas carol all the way home. By the following day, our house is decorated both inside and out. I am super organized with labeled bins and all things boxed and bagged each year. I am a joyous Christmas machine.
Last year, Miles was about 8 months old. He was crawling like a maniac, pulling up and standing on occasion, and I was concerned for our Christmas safety. Would he eat all the pine needles off the tree, or drink the water from the tree stand? (Answer: No; the cat will take care of that, and then vomit it up on your bathroom rug for you to step on at 2am because once you’ve birthed a child you will forever need to pee in the middle of the night and you will never turn the lights on because then you’re AWAKE).
Last year, Miles had some interest in the lights and ornaments during the decorating process. He played with his Little People nativity when given the chance. But otherwise, he pretty much ignored the tree altogether, which was awesome.
But this year? This year, he’s a full-blown toddler, and at 20 months old, there isn’t a single thing in the house he isn’t interested in picking up, throwing, eating or putting through the pet door into the garage.
Putting up our tree in 2013: Carefully double wrap lights inside to outside, hang garland in beautiful swags, unwrap all ornaments (including the breakable ones) and place them on the tree, followed by three dozen glittering jingle bells and two dozen red velvet bows. Do this while simultaneously watching “It’s a Wonderul Life”, playing with Miles and drinking hot cocoa. Total tree decorating time: 120 minutes.
Putting up our tree in 2014: Turn on “Elmo’s Eardrum Bleeding Christmas Special Palooza” to distract while getting lights on tree. Throw lights at tree when Miles isn’t looking. Unbox all newly purchased fabric/yarn ball ornaments that require zero hooks. Hang one ornament on the tree; walk to couch to pick up next ornament, only to find Miles has removed the first ornament. Repeat cycle no less than 76 times. Give Miles the owl and fox ornaments he picked out at Lowe’s. Watch in horror/amazement as he removes the eyes from both the owl and fox, then hands them over saying, “Hold it, mama. Hold owl eye. Hold fox eye.” Watch as he then hangs the ornaments on the tree. This is sort of a win, right? Now that most of the ornaments are on the tree, it’s time to hand Miles a jingle bell to test its durability and deliciousness. As expected, he immediately puts it in his mouth. Notice the jingle bell is the perfect size to become lodged in his throat. Ask him to spit out the jingle bell (he complies) then place them back in the 20 gallon ornament bin (which remains full), realizing he will be driving before we can have jingle bells on the tree again. Decide the red velvet bows are a safe choice; begin wrapping them on the branches. Miles seems less interested in the bows, as he is currently throwing one of the Christmas balls at one of the cats. Bonus: The cat thinks it really is a ball of yarn, and is batting it all over the dining room. This is why we never, ever pay full price for anything…the chances of destruction within 15 minutes of unboxing are very high. Bows are on, time for garland. Miles is incredibly intrigued by this sparkling wonder. He grabs the garland from the bin, and drags it through the kitchen saying, “C’MERE CAT! C’MERE CAT!” I am slightly concerned about what he will do with the garland if he does, in fact, catch the cat, but I have decided to take advantage of this time and hang the other two rolls of garland on the tree. The sparkle of the garland catches the glint from the lights, which sets off a toddler beacon signaling “GRAB THAT STUFF NOW!” Throw garland at the tree, sort of swag it, then spend 15 minutes asking Miles to not pull the lights/garland off the tree. Explain the tree could fall over and cause a “big owie.” Realize this does not deter the toddler. Tell Miles he is more than welcome to remove any of the Christmas balls he would like. Do a quick headcount of Christmas balls after realizing that every single night will involve locating and re-hanging said balls after Miles goes to bed. Six snowflakes, eight trees, one owl and one fox. We can make it. Climb on chair to put on blinking star tree topper. Pray Miles does not topple the chair over while I’m standing on it as he attempts to climb up and join me. Realize this is not one of my better decisions. Tell Miles the cat has his Christmas ball, oh no! Toddler runs to kitchen. Sort of get star on top of tree.
Total tree decorating time: 30 minutes. I bet you were thinking it would be longer based on the description, right? Well, I could have given the Reader’s Digest condensed version which would just say “Throw all the shit at the tree, plug it in and cross your fingers” but I thought it would be fun to reminisce on the whirlwind that was Tree Decorating 2014. Better yet, in pictures:
We also tried to help Dad put up the outside lights, but after 20 minutes of Miles climbing halfway up the ladder TO THE ROOF, I realized we would be safer inside.
After we finished the hurricane of decorating, I turned off the household lights so we could admire the tree in all its cockeyed, twinkling glory. Miles grabbed my leg and said, “Oh Mama, bootiful lights!” and I melted into a puddle right then and there. I will climb under any piece of furniture to retrieve ornaments for the next three weeks just to experience that single moment again: CHRISTMAS MAGIC.
No jingle bells,