One for the Ages

So, if you missed my grumbling on facebook yesterday, here are the facts: I am 35 years old. And I have never, ever (until yesterday) strung Christmas lights on a tree.

Growing up, that was my mom’s job. I’m not sure if she wanted to do it or if she did it because there was no way Booney was getting up on a ladder with Christmas lights in hand, but she always did it. I think I remember watching from my pillow on the floor in front of the television a few times.

In the first few years of our marriage, I watched Lee string our Christmas lights, usually from across the room. There were invariably a lot of tense words from behind the tree, and when he was done I always complained that there weren’t enough, and Lee would dutifully string more until I was happy. Then we discovered that we could actually get through decorating the tree without cursing each other if I left him alone for the lights part and showed back up when it was time for ornaments, wine, and Charlie Brown Christmas music.

But this week we realized there was no way the tree would get decorated any time soon unless I put on my big girl panties and strung the lights myself.

So I did.

And it was bad. Really, really bad.

Our precious babysitter Kelsey had taken the kids out for a walk while I worked, and when she came back in she said: I think it looks nice! I love the clusters.

Sweet Jesus.

But it was too late to undo them, and the kids were about to pee themselves to put on ornaments, so the lights stayed, clustered though they were.

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Mary Bullock insisted that it was beautiful despite my protests. She saw the sparkles and not the wires. So she and Bo not at all carefully started to cover the tree in gold balls.

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We lost a few, but it was well worth it just to see their little bodies running back and forth from the box to the tree. This is the first year we’ve let Bo within ten feet of the tree without a baby gate, so he was thrilled.

And after spending all afternoon grumbling and/or having a panic attack about the lights, I was thrilled, too.

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And then Lee came home.

I had prepared him for disaster, but none of the pictures I tried to send captured the truly awful mass of mess that I had created. I fully expected him to send us all to bed while he pulled down the catastrophe and started over. But he didn’t.

He said: Well, it’s not one for the ages. And shrugged his shoulders.

Can’t win ’em all is what Kelsey had said.

I have other fine qualities is what I had said.

So we pulled out the special ornaments, which go on last, and gussied up our wonky tree and I definitely had to hold back tears at the beautiful mess we created.

Mary Bullock, arms deep in a box of ornaments blurted out: Mommy, I feel happy.

And then there was no point in holding back tears. What else could one ask of a Christmas tree?

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I will never win any Christmas light contests, that’s certain. But wonky lights and all, this tree is definitely one for the ages.

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