I love Christmas.
I have bells that chime Christmas carols and old favorite recipes and the Michael Bublé Christmas classics CD.
I fucking love Christmas.
I love it so much that I nagged my husband to let us put up the tree early this year because I just couldn’t wait to get into the Christmas spirit. I imagined smiling faces, everyone getting along, and little eyes full of wonder. I imagined quintessential “Christmas magic.”
I highly recommend putting up your Christmas tree early. Why? Because it is none of those things.
The reality is that it’s a giant shit fight between you, your whiny children, and your less than helpful husband.
You will end up doing 93% of the work while your tiny tyrants work against you, and you will need most of December to regain your Christmas spirit after it is sapped during the tree-trimming process.
Firstly, when you pick up the kids from school and tell them it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, you’ll be greeted with blank faces because “I wanted to watch Harry Potter tonight.”
After this initial conversation, Harry Potter will be mentioned 13 more times through the evening before you lose your shit completely and threaten to throw Harry Potter out the fucking window.
Fuck Harry Potter. Tonight is about Christmas magic.
Your 3-year-old will not give a fuck about the Christmas tree. Let’s be honest. Initially, he will feign excitement about the idea, but then he will spend most of the time reorganizing your carefully organized boxes of decorations and breaking your shit.
Your 9-year-old will be consistently unimpressed by everything. Your children will fight about what decorations belong to whom and where they should go. You will develop a twitch in your eye watching them hang decorations willy-nilly with no regard for the correct branch-to-decoration ratio. Your tree will look like Frosty the Snowman got too piss drunk and threw up on it.
This is when you reach for your second beer.
Your husband will have offered to cook dinner tonight. But he’s not trying to be helpful. He will find a way to make frying chicken take nearly three hours so he has a valid reason to be removed from the chaos. While you may have spent the last 12 months burying the trauma of decorating the tree, he knows exactly what is going to happen tonight.
That’s why he bought you the beer.
He has no regard for the fact that your children are starving little grinches making your job 600% harder. He just wants to stay the fuck out of your way while you are in desperate pursuit of Christmas magic.
Your children will sing carols out of tune or with the wrongs words, and it will make your skin crawl.
You will spend 163 hours untangling lights — only for them to be tangled up again by your 9-year-old who cannot follow instructions.
Michael Bublé is still blaring in the background.
No one will watch where they’re standing, and your preschooler will attempt to “play bowling” with baubles and anything ceramic, resulting in 13 decorative casualties for the evening.
The only time you communicate with your husband is when you ask him to superglue them back together.
Your most-used phrase for tonight will ultimately become “Don’t touch that.”
At several stages throughout the evening, you will think back on decorating the tree when you were a kid and how much fun that was, and you will wonder why tonight can’t be like that.
And after you’ve sent the kids to bed early — because, quite simply, fuck this — and you’re on to your third beer while staring at your tree of anarchy, you will come to the startling realization that decorating the tree has always been this way.
You suddenly remember last year when your husband was nowhere to be found because he was probably finding a way to cook 2-minute noodles in 45 minutes.
You remember the year before, when your toddler developed a sudden onset of gastro and vomited on the tree repeatedly before shitting on the carpet.
And you remember even when you were a kid, when you intentionally hid your brother’s favorite decorations just to upset him because you were an asshole child.
Putting up the tree has never been magical, but all the chaos gets forgotten.
This is because the next morning — after you call your parents to apologize for being a dick at Christmas for all those years and they reply with “I just remember your happy faces” — you get up and see the tree you with the reorganized decorations before you went to bed, with your kids smiling at the twinkling lights, their eyes full of wonder.
And you can’t remember why you got so mad last night.
And that is Christmas magic.