At 10 pm last Sunday night, in a fit of rage that could only be induced by untangling Christmas lights only to find they won’t connect correctly or are half burned out, I realized just how different this Christmas will be. It will be our first Christmas with a toddler. That ever-curious, fascinated with the world, glass case of emotions, destructive breed of little man is about to throw a wrench in all of my holiday plans. The signs had been creeping up on me, in the way of jealousy over friend’s tranquil Instagram posts of flawless decorations hung with languishing ease.
In year’s past, I too enjoyed a hot toddy or three while slowly, methodically trimming our tree. I decorated every room in our house, thanks to the loot of Christmas décor our home’s previous owners left behind when they moved. The holiday season progressed with precision between my annual traditions of thanksgiving, black friday boycott in lieu of decorating, small business Saturday shopping and tree hunting and cookie baking Sunday.
But though we’ve held on to as much of our usual Christmas Family Traditions as possible, and cannot wait to introduce the rest of them to Henry in the future, this year needs to be a little different. Take for instance our Christmas tree. Let’s play that game from elementary school “what’s wrong with this picture.” 1) low on lights after three sadly sober late night attempts to put them up after bedtime so I could avoid having to fight Henry’s “help” ended in utter frustration and going to bed. 2) all breakables up top, all Ikea and otherwise bouncable ornaments on bottom. Try as I might, balance eluded this Charlie Brown tree 3) our pretty fir is from local farm friends Small Blessings Farms. The recent extreme weather and our full to the brim schedule dictated that instead of our usual tradition of tromping through the snowy woods to find one while merrily sing-shouting “fa la la la la,” we had to find one in town.We purchased it in the scant half hour between our work/nanny share day at the Simple Goodness farm and a birthday party for my sister. It was nearly dark and when the lovely farmer who sold it to us asked if that would allow me to select one I liked, I remarked that all I needed was something “big and green.” The tree was 10 ft tall and beautiful and only $40 so it couldn’t be beat for the circumstances. But still, I miss that snowy walk.
And then there was the “big reveal.” I awoke the morning after the light fiasco determined to salvage the dream. I made coffee and offered Mr. Kelly cocoa (’cause he isn’t really a grown up.) Henry ate waffles and watermelon, his two favorite things. I wanted everyone in a good mood to decorate the tree. And then for the next two hours Henry played with the pink convertible push car I had picked up for free earlier in the week on the side of the road (I disinfected it, calm down germaphobes), Mr. Kelly’s football game drowned out my Christmas music and I decorated the tree alone. When I went to turn the lights on I thought for sure I would finally get the “wow!” reaction I’d been waiting for. Henry turned his head, walked toward the kitchen and put his hand to his mouth while saying “wawa.”
Pride at his on point sign language mixed with rueful laughter and the utter conviction that Instagram is a den of lies.
But that is just the thing isn’t it- a picture may say a 1,000 words but never the whole story. And I can bet, though my friends may be single, or childless, or have older children, or less busy lives, or whatever, that they let out a few eff bombs in the light stringing process too. The Kelly holiday season home looks very different this year but really, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having a baby changes everything, even your Christmas tree. And thank God for that.