When Christmas Trees Attack

I’ve had better days in my life compared to how my day went yesterday. A few worse ones, of course. But it’s not often you have a day that you’re pretty sure you’ll remember for quite some time, and for all the wrong reasons. I’ve had better ways I’ve responded to stress, too.

The day started out innocently enough. An average work day, though I was still getting over being sick. Nothing bad, but a lingering fatigue. You know how it can be. I’d come home and worked on writing, and all was still more or less on track. Then I got news that my step mother’s cancer had taken a sharp turn for the worse. (Believe it or not, I try to avoid talking too much about family on my blog beyond Denisa and the kids. And there are some things I just don’t mention. I only bring this up now to explain how the day went from fine to awful so quickly.)

The news shook me a great deal. It still has me unsettled and off balance, and this is now almost a whole day later. But Denisa was at work still, and I needed to get things moving with dinner and family activities. Mikulaš was supposed to come last night, after all. And that meant the kids needed to find their winter boots and clean them, and we wanted to decorate the Christmas tree on top of that.

I came downstairs determined to have a good evening. In retrospect, this was the wrong attitude to start with. I was Clark Griswolding the holidays. I’d put the movie clip in (from National Lampoon’s Vacation), but the language is too strong for me to feel comfortable. Here’s the edited quote I’m referring to. It comes toward the end of the movie. Everything’s been going wrong with the trip, and Clark’s family wants to bail out. When they suggest giving up on the vacation, this is his response:

I think you’re all [frakked] in the head. We’re ten hours from the [frakking] fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much [frakking] fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose!

This scene plays in my head whenever I go overboard on something. Usually in retrospect, of course. The same as it’s playing now. But I definitely feel obligated to have fun sometimes, even when it’s just not happening.

So I was stressed last night, and I was more stressed by the thought that we had to have a FUN night, and that made me snappy. I barked the kids into order and got dinner going. I managed to seriously upset one child to the point that they left the room completely, right before decorations were supposed to be going up. I sifted through Christmas tree lights and got them onto the tree, and then I plodded through the motions of what was supposed to be going on.

And then I realized what I was doing and backed off a bit. That was a good thing. The child rejoined us, apologies were extended, and it seemed like we might pull through that evening without too much damage.

Then I got an email about something at work that had to be taken care of right away. Fine. Everything seemed to be in order, so I headed up to work on a revision of a document that needed to be turned around ASAP. Halfway through the revision, DC came to the room, her eyes wide. “Mom needs you,” she said. “The tree fell down.”

Yeah.

I rushed downstairs to see the Christmas tree we’d spent an hour or two decorating, sprawled on the floor. Ornaments shattered. Needles scattered. Water everywhere. This was a first for me. It felt so . . . strange to see that tree like that. Like it was dead, honestly. Somehow we’d put too many decorations on one side, I think. Or else I’d pulled at it when I was putting on the lights. In any case, the tree had been imbalanced, and it toppled at last. Thankfully no one had been there to get hit when it fell.

Denisa and I scrambled to dry the floor and right the tree. Meanwhile, I still had that ASAP work assignment, so once the crisis had at least been patched, I headed back upstairs to finish. I got it done and sent back, and then I headed downstairs again to redecorate the tree.

It was a late night.

But it’s in the past now. The best thing about bad days is that usually things can only get better. Here’s hoping it’s all up from here.

Anyone else have a Christmas tree topple on them? I can’t be the first . . .

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