Bah Humbug


“I’m not sure I even like Christmas anymore,” I tell Patrick as we’re driving to get our Christmas tree. “I’m having a hard time finding anything to be excited about.” We get to Home Depot and pick out our tree. The kids are very excited. I’m reserved. I have Christmas tree…issues.

Every year, I say I’m not going to do it. Every year, I say I’m just going to wrap the lights around, like twinkly garland. Then I look at the tree. All the branches smooshed together from the ride home. And I grab my string of lights and start at the bottom. I wrap every branch, from trunk to end and back again. I think maybe somebody can help me, this year. I carefully show the oldest how to to it, taking each individual branch and covering it with lights. I give her a little while and check on her progress. It looks like she has just grabbed a whole bunch of branches and tied them together with a strand of lights. “No, No NO! Is that, in any way, what I told you to do? Is that what I’m doing?” I ask, my voice going up an octave with every word. “Just stop. I’ll do it all myself.”

None of the kids are enjoying this. They aren’t allowed to touch the tree until I get all the lights on it. They’re behaving like kids do, if you put something super-fun in front of them that they’ve been all excited about and tell the not to touch it. This is not good.

I’m not enjoying this. I feel like a crazy person. I’m acting like a crazy person, but I can’t stop. Every branch must be covered, and it must be perfect. I’m cranky, and I would love a glass of wine. The wine I’ve stopped drinking. Six hours later, I run out of lights. With the entire top quarter of the tree unlit. I all but fling the final short string at the top of the tree and run to my room. I break down. I curl into a little ball, crying, sobbing. I worked so hard. I didn’t want to fucking do it in the first place, but I couldn’t stop. And now I can’t even finish what I started. And I’m having a total breakdown – over the fucking Christmas tree.

This isn’t right. This isn’t how this is supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be driven crazy by the tree. I’m not supposed to dread the Christmas holidays when my kids are out of school because they are so excited and crazy that they will drive me out of my mind. They will escalate and continue to do so until something happens and they crash and burn, and then it’s them curled into a little ball, crying. I’m not supposed to be so stressed about money and spend way more than I should because I’m so scared that they might be disappointed on Christmas morning. I shouldn’t be so stressed about trying to choose and buy gifts for everyone.

Christmas is supposed to be a fun, festive time, right? When did it turn into this? Am I the only mom out there who has reached this point? How do we come back from it without totally giving up?

Disclaimer: I am aware that I am not quite myself right now, and that my reactions to things are not typical, even for me. But this has been brewing for several years now. It just seems to have peaked this year, like everything else.

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