Decorating our Chrismas tree is a big deal. I have attached unhealthy expectations and unneccessary pressure to that day. Christmas music, Christmas movies, spiked hot cider, laughter, memories and a partridge in a pear tree. (What is that anyway? It’s impossible; that’s what. Just like the Christmas in my head.)
Why is this so tacky and so true and so hilarious?
We live and die on our expectations, don’t we? When reality is not what we imagined, its a breeding ground for disappointment.
Speaking of disappointment, we woke up sleepy on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which shall forever be remembered as, The Travesty. Cody and I realized we had slept through a glass of wine spilling all over our electronics. Cody checked them all and they seemed fine. I caught the baby’s cold, so we were also on quarantine from our friends, but who cares? We were decorating our Christmas tree!
We started with coffee and a biscuit in the bright LA sunshine. New baby’s eyes are very sensitive to light, so I moved to the side of the stroller to block the sun. Next thing I know, I am doubled over in pain because Big Foot Ashley slammed her pinky toe into the stroller wheels. Naturally, it puffed up and changed colors immediately. Also, I cussed.
We had a lovely morning at Coffee Commissary together as a family. We needed to run a few errands on the way home. First stop: Ralphs. Cody left his wallet at home and took my card into the grocery store. (Single ladies, this is a real thing. Keys and wallets will remain lost for all of time.) He forgot that he had my card and entered his pin number twice, to which the bank responded LOCKED CARD. Now we have no cloves, no cinnamon sticks, no money, and no Martinelli apple juice, but let’s be honest, that last one’s a good thing.
Mind you, I had already been in the car with an infant who hates his car seat for thirty minutes because Cody decided to call the bank in the grocery store. When the not helpful human at the bank asked Cody if there was anything else she could help him with, he responded, “YES, YOU CAN UNLOCK MY CARD.” Now, we had to go home, get his wallet and drive to a fancier store that sells unfiltered apple juice for an undisclosed amount of money. Mama was not happy. “Just forget it. Let’s go home,” I said.
“We’re not forgetting anything,” he said.
Next stop, Orchard. Cedar garland? Check. More rustic ornaments? Check. Two cranky, married people? Check.
Cody went to the garage to get the Christmas boxes and our beloved fake tree from Big Lots, while I rented Home Alone on Amazon and made hot cider.
Houston, we have a problem. A problem duct tape can’t fix
“Just put it up. Who cares if we have the leaning tower of pisa for a tree?” I said. He went to Orchard for a tree stand. “Wait, are you serious? You know we have a fake tree right? That is not going to fit,” I said. He ignored me and placed the tree in the stand. Since we don’t say I told you so in this house, I grabbed a hand towel from the linen closet. He wrapped it around the tiny fake tree pole, duct taped it tight, and that newly fattened pole fit that tree stand like a glove.
Upon adding the top of our tree to the pole, we discovered all the lights were out. After replacing all the blown lights with blue lights from a random strand in the garage without any success, Cody drove to Orchard for the third time on The Travesty, to purchase replacement bulbs. Good. I hate colored lights on just the top of my tree.
He started replacing bulbs again while I sat on the couch staring at Home Alone, because I know when to fold ’em, obviously. When the stupid Big Lots tree still wouldn’t light on the top, he quit too, and we started hanging ornaments and wrapping burlap ribbon. A rascal of a blue light had fallen to the ground. Cody reached to pick it up – SURPRISE – it was broken. Now, my husband was bleeding profusely. All over our wood floors.
At this point, we started laughing. What else could we do? The
rum kicked in mood lightened and we enjoyed decorating. Until, I went to get my laptop, for who knows why now, and it wouldn’t turn on. Or charge. I brought it to my husband and he couldn’t get it to work either.
This was the straw that broke Ashley’s back, so I went for a sketchy Van Nuys mani/pedi. I literally had to ask the lady if she had cleaned her tools recently. But, it did give me some time to calm down and reflect.
The picture in my mind of tree decorating day, set our family up to fail. We crush others under the weight of our expectations. It is unfair, immature, and unloving. I owed my husband an apology. We couldn’t live up to the standard I was lording over us, and why should we? Every day is a new day, full of opportunities for us to be present with each other. We can’t afford to spend our “now” moments trying to recreate the past or imagine some impossible fairytale.
Plus, the present looks pretty good, even without lights on the top of the tree.
What if we stopped on the crap days, and said, Self, this is a crap day. It’s okay that its a crap day, because that’s life. Get it together and take it one moment at a time. Do your best to enjoy your life, mind your manners and love each other.
Later that week, late in the night, Cody pulled me close. “Everything is gonna be alright,” he said softly and I burst into tears. I didn’t even know I needed to hear that.
Maybe you don’t have someone close to you right now who sees your life, your unmet expectations, your pain, your crap days and your concerns. I’ve been there and its hard. May I have the honor of reminding you friend, “Everything is gonna be alright.”
God sees you and he knows. It’s enough in this moment that He knows. Life may not always be what we pictured it to be, but God will make something beautiful out of it anyway.
Jesus will bind up our broken hearts. He will give freedom where we are captive, give us favor in situations we need it, comfort us as we mourn, provide for us in our pain. He will give us beauty for these rotten ashes and make himself known as we live and love every day.
There is purpose in our pain, love. Everything is gonna be alright. Maybe not today, but eventually.
If all else fails, these sunglasses are at the Dollar Tree for a dollar.