Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas All Over--Again!

There's nothing like a three-day weekend with the kids to make you want to erect an igloo for them to live in for the rest of the winter.

We had a major snowfall on Friday. Which meant--every parent's heart-stopping nightmare--a snowday. My kids, in typical form, woke up at 6:30 in the morning Friday all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Even though on most days I can't get Cara to come out of her bear-like hybernation without first doing a series of jumping jacks on her head.

Luckily, my friend Sharon, a teacher whose district also closed for the day, called early to invite both Cara and Ryan over to play with her two girls. I got them ready, then started the endless process of shoveling. When I finished, I headed over to Sharon's. She was giving them lunch and saying how they'd just come in from playing in the snow. I, for one, was shocked, seeing as how my kids only seem drawn to snow so they can see who can get ready, run out the door and get back in the fastest.

Meanwhile at Sharon's, as soon as they were done eating they headed back out again. Weird.

Sharon was like, "They're all outside! What should we do?!"

Instead of putting our feet up and eating bon-bons, like usual, we decided to put up her Christmas tree. Which was fun, actually. Because all the kids were outside. Nobody was stepping on something breakable or pulling out 50,000 ornaments while we were trying to string the lights. It was fun.

When the kids came in and saw the tree, Cara and Ryan launched into their annual Christmas tree medley. It goes a little something like this: "When can we put our tree?" "Can we put up our tree today?" "How come their tree is up and our's isn't?" And everybody's favorite: "They're so lucky--they have their tree up and we don't."

So, Saturday morning, after Mike and Cara left for her morning activities, Ryan was ready to break into the medley again when I stopped him cold with: "Okay, we'll do the tree after breakfast."

He was a little shocked. A little confused. I had agreed to something and I hadn't even had my coffee yet.

Now, for those of you who believe you need a real (read: it used to be a living thing) tree for it to be a real Christmas tree, you may want to stop reading. Because we have a looks-like-real, could-pass-as-real-if-you-light-a-pine-scented-candle, fine-whatever-it's-not-real tree. Between my seasonal allergies and Mike's being allergic to tree hauling, we've gone with an unreal tree for years.

Ryan and I put the thing together and I got the lights on before a buddy of his called and asked him over. I wanted to go shopping anyway, so we stopped the decorating process. I told Ry we would take out the other decorations and put the ornaments on the tree "later." Later turned out to be Sunday, because Mike and I went to a party at my friend Melissa's house Saturday night. We had a new sitter coming and wanted to clean up so she wouldn't realize how we actually live. The tree was lit, a few decorations were deftly placed in the dining and living rooms. The empty bins were moved to the garage. The furniture was polished, the floor was vacuumed. Assorted crap was put back in Cara's room. It almost didn't look like our house at Christmas.

So, Sunday, I get the rest of the bins of ornaments. I was busy trying to coordinate extension cords with surge protectors with tree lights and the light-up village--all so I can just flick a light switch and have everything light up at once. I'm under the tree, behind the chair, in back of the sofa--pretty much not paying attention. I THOUGHT Cara and Ryan were just putting their ornaments on the tree. They each have their own big box of ornaments they've been given over the years.

When finally crawled out from under the entry table, having made long work of that fun little project, I realized SOMEBODY had torn out EVERY ornament from EVERY bin along with EVERY piece of tissue paper, bubble wrap, and cardboard divider. Crystal ornaments sat precariously atop piles of lids. Boxes that I had put away in the bins were back out and scattered all over the floor. Three musical decorations were bleating at the same time, drowning out the iPod's Christmas selections that were now relegated to beyond background music.

Me: "What in hell....?!?"

Cara and Ryan's finger-pointing began, the place looked like a tornado blew through. I was ready to blow a gasket. And that's when I thought, "Now this...THIS is Christmas."

--Catherine Schetting Salfino