I'm the kind of person who will arrange the shit out of a Christmas tree, like I'm composing a still life, trying to artfully balance the spaces between ornaments and achieve the perfect ratio of lights and tinsel. I'm a Christmas tree perfectionist. I like everything just so, and all twinkly and beautiful.
But, like ... I have kids. And cats.
That's why this year, my dream Christmas tree looks more like a freaking nightmare.
I was delusional enough to think that this year, maybe, finally, I'd get to have a nice tree. But here's why I can't.
#1: THE TODDLER. Okay, so everybody knows that toddlers and Christmas trees pair about as well as hemorrhoids and a G-string: put the two together and it's just painful. (You're welcome for the mental image, by the way.) But I was hopeful this year. My two-year-old likes to pattern his behavior after his older brothers - who, at ages nine, six, and five, are old enough to stay out of the tree. So I figured since the toddler didn't see his brothers getting into the tree, he'd leave it alone.
Only ... he doesn't. And he can't stop at just rearranging ornaments ... oh, no. He pulls off (and unravels) tinsel. He throws toys into the branches (see the little orange dump truck in the photo above? It didn't drive there by itself). The other day I heard whomp! whomp! whomp! and walked in to find him literally beating the thing with a plastic baseball bat. He pulls the hangers off the tops of the ornaments and, inexplicably, throws them into the kitchen sink. The child is hazardous to the poor tree. Not to mention my mental health.
#2: THE CATS. We have two cats: Nick and Nessa. Last Christmas, when we had Nessa and our old cat Ava, they stayed out of the tree for the most part (Ava was old and didn't climb, so neither did Nessa).
But Ava died a few months ago, and we adopted Nick (who, despite his name, is no saint). And, well, this pretty much sums up Nick's involvement with the tree:
See how it's, like, narrow where he's sitting? That's because he's at the top of the tree. He scales it like it's his own personal Mt. Everest. And while Nessa doesn't climb through it like Nick does, she like to get underneath it, and then they fight in the branches. The tree starts hissing and spitting and rocking back and forth as though it's possessed. It would actually be amusing if it weren't my damn Christmas tree.
#3: MY GERIATRIC TREE. I love our tree, but it has definitely seen better days. Curtis and I bought it in November of 1999, so this is its fifteenth year. To put its age in perspective, we got it when Justin Timberlake looked like this:
As Christmas trees go, this one is ancient. It's like the Methuselah of Christmas trees. And like anything old, it's falling apart. The branches no longer snap firmly into place. They're getting saggy and loose. It constantly sheds its little polyester needles (or whatever the hell fake tree needles are made of) all over my carpet. It simply can't stand up to the beatings of a toddler or the cat infestation like it used to. It's been unpacked and repacked, fluffed up and compressed again, shipped overseas, and washed and blow-dried in case of rodents and other creepy things.
The poor thing is just on its last legs. Er, branches.
I'm about to say screw it and just take the damn thing down. Every time I pass by it, I cringe at the drooping lights, the bare spots, the ornaments strewn all haphazardly. I'm tired of telling the toddler to get out of the tree (because, to add insult to injury, he doesn't understand the whole Santa concept yet so a "Santa's watching" threat is futile). I'm tired of seeing it wobble precariously back and forth as the cats have a field day within its depths.
But I guess that if all that weren't happening, I wouldn't have any pictures like this:
(He was saying, "Nick! Hold my hand!" Ugh, the cuteness.)
So I guess I'll leave it up, but that still doesn't stop me from fantasizing about a perfectly decorated, un-bothered tree.
There's always next year.