Saturday, December 13, 2014

Decking the Halls ~ The Tree Debacle

I should have known things were not going to go smoothly the minute the kids announced they were not going to the Christmas tree farm this year. After some begging (more like incredulous questioning), pleading (more like telling them it was unacceptable for them not to go) and bargaining (I had to agree to buy them McDonald's breakfast in the end) we all piled in the car and headed to the Christmas tree farm we have been visiting for about a decade now.
Of course we wind our way up and down every aisle for over an hour trying (well, with me trying) to find the perfect one. I am generally shot down that the ones I select are too big for our living room or they will point out some miniscule issue with it.  Then, when they tire of wandering with no tree prospect in sight they start to get cranky, or in this year's case, hangry and then suddenly any tree will do.
Finally, we found "the one" that we all agreed upon and were happily on our way home. That is, until the kids realized we had spent so much time searching for our tree that it was almost 11am and McDonald's may not still be serving breakfast by the time we get to the nearest one. Since that was the only reason they agreed to come in the first place, you can imagine that they were pretty irritated that we were cutting it so close that it may actually be a crap shoot as to whether they get breakfast after all.
Fortunately, fate was on our side, they got their sandwiches and all seemed well with the world again.
Unfortunately, I had to work overnight Sunday night. I paced myself with decorating, planning to wrap it all up when I was home on Monday. I was able to get everything else done on Sunday afternoon except the tree which was fine by me since I like to let the branches settle after they were mercilessly crammed into that netting they use for transporting. 

I should have been suspect that things could be headed on a downward spiral when I left work at 3:30 am to embark on my hour and a half commute home. I could barely keep my eyes open, had the window wide open but it was too cold so I also had the heat on full blast. Also on full blast was the Pandora Christmas Radio station and I was singing along at the top of my lungs; not because of the whole Christmas spirit thing, but out of desperation to not fall asleep at the wheel and die which might just ruin Christmas forever for my family. Or perhaps not, since then the kids would never be required to go to the Christmas tree farm again. Hmm. Guess it depends on how you look at it.
Anyway, my singing with the window open and heat blasting thing was working just fine until the damn Trans Siberian Orchestra came on and did nothing to help since I obviously cannot sing along to that annoying crap. Even worse was that I was terrified to change the music on my iphone lest I swerve in my half asleep state and crash the car. What a nightmare.
By the time I arrived home around 5am I was so delirious that I crawled into bed, curled up next to Charlie, shook his shoulder to wake him asking, "Am I really here? I'm home right?" His response of "yes, you are home" sounded more confused than sleepy and I am sure he thought I had lost it for good. I was so out of it that I was scared to close my eyes because what if I was just dreaming that I was home and was really still driving the car??? In rational hindsight I realize that if I had been dreaming I was home then I was already in deep shit if I was still driving. But my exhausted mind had no rationalization at that point.
I bet you think it couldn't get worse, right?
That's where you are wrong. So wrong.
I sleep until about 10 am. Partly because I cannot stand the thought of wasting a day at home and partly because I had to resume a normal work schedule starting Tuesday and did not want my sleeping pattern to be all jacked up. I wandered around trying to accomplish things around the house in a zombified state feeling as if I was incredibly hung over but had unfortunately missed all the fun of pre~hangover. Sucks.
I promised Ryan that she and I would decorate the tree when she got home from school and I had everything ready to make that happen. We put on Christmas music and head into the living room. But wait. The tree looks like it is leaning forward slightly in the stand. I silently debate ignoring it but realize that every time I walk into the room it will annoy the crap out of me. So I suggest we try to straighten it out. We can't even budge it in the stand. So we try again. And again. Finally I admit that we will have to wait for Charlie to get home from work and fix this. Fine. At least my tree will be straight.
Monday nights Ryan has tutoring from 7-8 pm so I after I pick her up and we get back home we have Charlie fix the tree. Success! We put some Christmas music on and started getting the lights on the tree. Halfway up the tree, there was not a single strand of lights left in the tote we store them in. 
How could this be??? Where are all my lights???
I search through every Rubbermaid tote of decorations again and again. I go into our walk in attic and start randomly opening every single storage tote thinking I must have left one up there. At this point I must have looked akin to Chevy Chase checking and double checking the Christmas lights in Christmas Vacation with the full blown craziness in my eyes.
I start grilling Charlie. Where are the lights??? He has no clue because I always dismantle the decor and helpfully suggests that maybe we threw some away last year? 
Since that was completely unhelpful, (he could have at least got up and looked around the totes as if he was trying to help me) and Ryan had grown bored at this point and wandered off to her room to go to bed, I threw on Uggs and my giant puffy winter coat over clothing I would normally never leave the house in and go to Target. It is now after 10 pm and thankfully they have already started their holiday hours. I fill my basket with 6 boxes of lights and head home. I decide that I will get up ridiculously early and finish the lights on my tree. And I do.
I am up at 4 am, coffee in hand and Christmas music on very quietly so as to not wake the rest of the house, and I start putting my brandy~new lights on the tree. I'm in a surprising good mood considering the hour and my whole lack of sleep thing. 3/4 of the way up the tree I open the last two boxes of lights.
I bought the wrong ones.
They were white wire lights, not green wire lights like the rest of them.
I am devastated. I cannot believe this is happening.
Charlie comes wandering into the kitchen a few minutes later takes one look at my face and says, "Oh my God, what's wrong?"
That's when the tears came.
I cried for my semi lit tree and the fact that I didn't think to check what color wire lights I was buying, I cried because I was overtired and worn out,  but mostly I cried because work was completely overwhelming me and I knew I was in for a 14 hour work day. Every day that week.
He put his arms around me and promised he would go to Target for me after work that day and get me the lights I needed.
This was only somewhat comforting since I knew at this point my tree was going to look like this for the remainder of the week:

At this point I realize that whether he gets me the right lights or not I would just be frustrating myself to even attempt decorating the tree for the remainder of the week. I was just going to have to turn a blind eye to it (not hard to do I guess since half of it wasn't even lit), dig deep and go into work survival mode.
True to my prediction, each day indeed turns into a 14 hour work day culminating with me working until 2:30 am on Saturday morning, going to a hotel adjacent to the parking lot of where I was, sleeping until 7 am, getting ready to go back to work, working until about 3 pm then driving directly to a wedding we had RSVP'd months before to attend. I unfortunately missed the ceremony, but had my dad pick up Charlie and bring him so we did not have to have two cars there or it might have been me driving home from my overnight all over again.  I changed into my wedding clothes in my dad's hotel room and off we went to the reception where I danced my ass off til 11 pm in the same heels I had had on since 8 am. By the time we were heading home I was almost comatose and not from alcohol, but from exhaustion and a set of feet that were screaming in pain.
Sunday morning I felt like crap so I relaxed a bit reading magazines and enjoying my coffee before I mustered up the energy to finish the tree.

Pretty ain't she?
Well, she better be after all I went through to get it done.
As one of my friends reminded me, it wouldn't be the holidays if something didn't go wrong.
How true.
Here's another truth:
If you want to enjoy the holidays, then don't work in the retail industry. It sucks any holiday joy right out of you.
Trust me, I know.

So tell me, did you holiday decorating go smoothly? 
Please tell me I am not the only one who survived a comedy of errors.... :)


  1. Your tree looks beautiful. I am sorry it was so crazy for you. I hope that you get some much needed rest and enjoy some quiet and happy family time soon.

  2. Oh lord, that sounds like a traumatizing, Christmas tree decking, week. The worst part of it all is the crazy hours you have been working! I hope you get some rest soon!

  3. Lovely tree! I have so many memories of not being able to go to sleep after a long night of driving because I was worried that I was still driving. Definitely a strange disconnect. I was thinking about driving overnight to my parents' this Christmas, but on second thought... well, maybe not. I'm glad you got it all sorted and can take a nap. :)