I am trying to start some sort of Christmas tradition with my children. Without fail, every year we tend to pick out the only Charlie Brown Christmas Tree on the lot. We must be attracted to sad, broken down souls. Now, mind you, we are unaware of the tree’s sadness until we get it home. I am usually to blame because I could care less about the tree-a tree is a tree. But this year, adult that I am, I blame my five year old. There was no pleasing this kid. We actually drove around to four different lots looking at trees, which already tells you what I pushover I am, my mother would have slapped my face after I turned my nose down at the third tree, pulled one off the lot, dumped it in the car and then tell me to shut up and be happy there are kids in third world countries who don’t get trees or celebrate Christmas. My husband and I, we indulged the kid. At every lot, he was a mini Tim Gunn. He would stand back and peer at each tree, inspect their branches, shake his head and proclaim, “They were too small, too skinny, and too fat.” The kid was dead set against any other tree but the one we bought. Seriously, the worst tree ever, so obviously he’s no Tim Gunn. The amount of holes in this tree is amazing. Maybe thirty good hearty branches – the rest sticks, no joke. Why this tree measured up to his high standards is beyond me. But it spoke to him. So I thought maybe the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree could be our tradition, but then I realized that’s kind of sad.
Well, never one to give up, I decided let’s decorate the tree and who knows maybe a tradition will unearth itself. We put the sad little holey tree up, grabbed the ornaments from the attic and had at it. While my two year old ran around the house like a mad man, my five year old studied the tree with a discerning eye. He carefully chose each ornament, then stood back and took in the whole tree, better to view the big picture I suppose, before carefully finding the perfect branch to put it on. As he did this he provided a running commentary about each ornament, “Ohhhhh, I LOVE this ornament. I remember when I got it, I remember when I made it, didn’t so and so give this to us?” My husband and I traded looks and tried not to laugh, because his Irish bullshit storytelling gene was in full effect, and we knew he didn’t have a clue about any of the ornaments. But it was so funny and precious to watch him as his gay interior designer gene kicked into full OCD effect as he proclaimed that our homemade Christmas Star wasn’t good enough. God Love Him. Now, I have to admit I was a bit offended, I made that damn star the first year my husband and I got married, apparently it’s not as cool as the other kids on the block, with his eyes welling with tears, my five-year old whimpered “It’s made out of cardboard….” Pause, choking on tears. “It doesn’t light up…” Pause, choking on tears. “It’s… its… its… NOT glittery enough!” All out wailing, it broke my heart for two seconds, then I finally took a page out of my mothers hand book, had him put the star on the tree and told him to be damn happy he had a tree and a star to slap on it. I made that star, that star isn’t going anywhere.
Once the star was on, our tree was far from done. It had so many holes on it, that my son went nuts with the tinsel. The amount of tinsel on our tree would send Liberace running. Now while my five-year old was in his tinsel glory my two-year old was shoving candy canes down his throat faster than Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France. That he didn’t throw up, well that surprised and to be honest scared me a little. I bought a box of twenty-four candy canes and by the time we were done there were five left. He was a sticky, gooey, slurpy mess, but he smelled great and was deliriously happy. If you ate that much sugar you’d be deliriously happy as well. When the ornament box was empty I looked over and saw my five-year old standing on the arm of the chair. He cleared his throat and with a fistful of tinsel and a flick of the wrist he said, “Now I just have to put on the finishing touches!” He tosses the tinsel, which went flying through the air and he looked in awe as it landed on the tree. He grinned like a wild banshee with pride and admiration at as his glittery mess.
As I laughed my ass off, my son turned his attention to the outside of our house. Our lights it seems aren’t good enough. The kid is right we have a sad string of broken ass lights, one string works, the other doesn’t. It drives me nuts; it doesn’t bother my husband who won’t fix the lights because he actually enjoys the fact that they annoy me. How do you like them apples? He’s positively spiting me. I told him yesterday that he was put on this Earth to push my buttons. He laughed and gave me an evil grin. I knew I was right. Besides the lights we have some piss poor decorations, all three of them: a very small flag with a picture of the manager, a Noel sign, and a shovel that resembles a snowman that my five-year old counts every day. For the last ten days I have heard that “We don’t have enough decorations; we need more, more, more! We need a Penguin on a sled, Santa popping out of a chimney, a glittery tree, Deer eating fake snow, a snowman or a mama Polar Bear with a baby Polar Bear.” Everyday, every hour, every second I hear the same thing. It’s the broken record my mother accused me of being that is now biting me in the ass. It’s gotten to the point that I want to wrap garland around these dang kids, put a Christmas ornament in their mouths and hang them outside next to the un-working string of lights. I am so tempted. But I don’t. And do you know why? It’s not because I love them, I do, but I’m more motivated by the fact that stripes make me look chubby, and I don’t want to be in jail for Christmas, ‘cause I KNOW they don’t serve fried shrimp in there.
So our tree is decorated, much to my five-year olds’ disappoint our house is too and I seem bereft of a holiday tradition. But as I write this I realize that we have our holiday tradition, we picked out a tree together, we decorated it, plopped a tin foil star on top and we’re all still alive for the telling. And as my mother would say there are kids in third world countries who don’t get trees or celebrate Christmas or have their family around them, and she’s right. She’s always right. Damn her! So that’s our tradition, and as I look out our window, so is that broken ass string of lights that my husband will never fix. Well, at least the house isn’t adorned with homemade garland fashioned out of beer cans, that’s for next year!
Merry Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy Kwanza too!!!