The Drama of Christmas

I have really learned to love Christmas. Part of it is that in the past several years we have begun to earnestly celebrate Advent. Part of it is having a kid to watch getting excited about the prospect of seemingly limitless presents. This next story is about neither of those great things.

We bought a 7.5-foot tree last year after Christmas for an amazing bargain. We got this total steal because it’s a lit tree but one of the strands wasn’t working. Stephen, being handy in that way, declared he would be able to fix it once we put it up.

Yesterday was set aside for hall decking at the Granade house so after a trip to our new, local community center to walk on the indoor track, we got started. We pulled boxes out of the attic and stowed the Thanksgiving paraphernalia. All was going well until we got to the tree part. I wanted to put it in our office since that window faces the street and I wanted our neighbors to be able to admire our great tree. We flopped open the bottom umbrella-like portion of the tree in the office and it took up every inch of available floor space between my side of the desk, the closet, the window, and the bookcase.

I’ll admit to the panic attack I had next because I hadn’t even considered the diameter of the tree being a problem. My first thought was that it had to go. If you ask Stephen, he’ll tell you that I proclaimed it was too big about 300 times. I thought we might return it. No luck. I thought we might sell it after Christmas. Doesn’t fix the current problem. I even tried to trade with Andrew and Joy for their skinnier tree. Still don’t have an answer there and also, doesn’t fix the current problem.

We talked about putting it in our bedroom but finally settled for in front of our back door. Yes, that’s right, it’s sitting in front of our back door, taking up all available floor space between it and the piano. While this paragraph only took about two minutes to write, the actual events it describes took somewhere between two and three hours. And we hadn’t even tackled the truly hairy part of fixing the broken strand of lights.

That was a whole different ball of wax. We plugged and replugged each of the lights that weren’t working. We checked the fuses in three different plugs. I had another panic attack when I read the troubleshooting guide and it said the wires contained lead and that pregnant women shouldn’t handle them. Stephen took over and began removing that string of lights from the tree while I started unpacking other boxes. He had about two branches unstrung when he found the problem. One of the wires had pulled out from the base of a bulb. It was a completely easy fix except we didn’t have any wire nuts around. Stephen phoned our nearest friends to see if they might have some (they too are a handy lot) but no one was home. He got ready to go to Lowe Depot when I decided to ferret around in the tool chest. I came up with exactly one wire nut. Stephen had it fixed in under a minute. Elapsed time this phase of the project: about an hour.

In the background of all this tree angst is Eli. We stayed up late Friday night to go to our Sunday School Christmas party. He woke up early yesterday morning and had a lousy nap yesterday afternoon. Insufficient sleep makes for a grumpy Eli. The house being topsy-turvy makes for a grumpy Eli. We had that in spades yesterday with all the boxes and the intense discussions about the tree. Eli not getting enough one-on-one attention makes for a grumpy Eli. Grumpy Eli makes for a grumpy Mommy and Daddy. We grouched at Eli the whole day yesterday. He couldn’t keep his hands off things. He couldn’t listen. He wanted to watch tv all day long. Eli was a whole drama unto himself.

Finally, ornament hanging time arrived. We actually had fun during that part except for not having enough hooks to get stuff on the tree. There were a few moments of discussion, “Go out for more hooks?” But I unearthed a box of ball ornaments we didn’t plan to use and scavenged off of them for hooks.

Stephen and I both had to have a nap before dinner. But the upside is the pre-lit tree is really beautiful. Here’s the proof.

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Here’s hoping the rest of the Advent season is less eventful than yesterday.

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