I know that it’s possible to be the most disorganized parent in attendance at a lot of things.
The most disorganized room mom? Yes. The most disorganized t-ball coach? Yep. The most disorganized play-group mom? The most disorganized parents in your child’s cub scout den? The most disorganized parents at Chick Fil A?? All a yes.
But being the most disorganized parents at the local Christmas tree farm?
That takes a lot of hard work and sheer dedication. I’m not sure you all can keep up….
Every year, my family intends to get our Christmas’ing done early. Which is hilarious, because every year, we’re still wrapping presents at midnight on the 23rd, trying not to scotch tape each other’s mouth shut from all the stress.
Anyway, so Christmas stuff.
We aren’t the type to go all out on celebratory stuff, but we do have a few traditions we take very seriously. None more seriously than procuring our Christmas tree.
Even though by December 26th, I will be pulling my hair out in aggravation over all of the dead pine needles on my floor, in my laundry and in my toddler’s mouth, and even though I will be longing to have a large corner in my living room back, we still prioritize our Christmas tree.
We don’t stand for any of that artificial tree nonsense. None of that picking out a tree at our local hardware store. That’s all too easy.
No, we drive out into the country, which for us bumpkins isn’t that big a deal because it’s basically nine minutes of driving in one particular direction, grab a saw and wagon, and walk what feels like the length of 14 football fields in our quest to choose the perfect tree.
All of this is done with three children in tow who are less than interested with the whole process about nine minutes into it.
Despite this, my husband and I like to take our time and have a good hunt for our Christmas tree. There is inevitably some controversy between the two of us because I choose about 11 different trees that are entirely too large for our living space because I always feel like I am “settling” when we pick a tree that isn’t ten and a half feet tall and six feet wide.
Go big or go home, right?
This year, our trip was no exception.
We finally made out it out to the farm several hours after we had planned to because of course we did. I don’t know why, but the husband and I always seem to think that we will all just roll out of bed, get dressed, gather our things and depart in a calm and orderly fashion.
Because, for some reason, we forget that we have three small people to attend to, and that they need some (a lot of) convincing at times to get out of the house. There is no just opening the door and stepping outside. It is never just that.
These days, getting out of the house involves cereal and finding socks and brushing teeth and no, really, go and brush your teeth, and getting coats on, and oh no, the baby needs a new diaper, and maybe the baby should nap before we go and, well, in that case, we should all just eat cheese sandwiches because now it’s lunchtime anyway and we need a break because we have been trying to leave the house for three hours…
Once the baby woke up, we were out the door in a flash**.
**this term is relative to parent speak. Any implication that this is actually a fast process is purely coincidental.
We arrived at the farm, and then proceeded to cocoon the youngest child in a winter coat far too large for her in an effort to keep her warm. This meant that she could only lean back in her stroller and basically stare at the sky, as it was too great an effort to lean forward to actually see anything worth looking at.
It was ok, though, because laying belly up keeps both toddlers and sharks relaxed.
We cautioned our children not to run because there were many hidden holes and stumps around, but they immediately tripped and stumbled because they were running even though there were many hidden holes and stumps around.
By the time we ended up actually cutting down the tree, and after I had morphed into Gestapo in an effort to make my children sit still for at least one picture, our children were hungry or needed to pee or both. Because there is surely no better time to do either than when we are out in the middle of a field in a Christmas tree maze.
By that point, I was surprised that we had gone all day without seeing a minotaur.
We brought our tree up to the outbuilding to pay for it. While waiting in line, I saw a woman with manicured fingernails, a hot Starbucks drink in her hand and no children nipping at her heels. She was clearly displeased with my children, who were spinning in circles with their arms stretched out. She had also clearly stood idly by while her other half saw down their tree. Her work was finished as soon as she had chosen the perfect tree.
Glad to see you’re looking so pulled together, lady, I thought, I can’t remember if I put on deodorant before leaving the house, and the crinkle in your nose makes me worry if I smell or if my children practicing their fart noises is what’s putting you off.
Actually, the crinkle in her nose made me HOPE that I stank like livestock, and it made me wish one of my children would spin right into her and knock her teetering cup of Starbucks over because #christmasspirit.
As our tree was being baled, we learned that the cost for evergreen magic was fifty-one dollars**. And we had brought exactly fifty dollars with us….oh snap.
**These trees are worth every penny and we proudly buy from our favorite local Christmas tree farm.
With wide eyes, my husband asked me to check my purse and then the car for an extra dollar, even our check book. After combing through the seats and underneath of everything, finding a massive sippy cup graveyard, and checking my wallet, we found neither a dollar or a checkbook.
Then we proceeded to go full Alcatraz on our children. The shakedown began.
“Do you guys have any quarters that we should know about??”
Kids: *without checking* no.
We were almost to the point of using a knife to cut open their seats, and flipping their booster seats over before I finally found my check book.
It was at this point that I noticed two things.
One was a family walking down the lane, pulling their perfect Christmas tree behind them in a bright red wagon. They all had matching Burberry scarves draped around their necks. Their beautifully groomed King Charles Spaniel trailed faithfully by their sides, and their smiling faces beamed in the afternoon sun. I’m pretty sure I saw an angel playing a harp hovering over them, throwing flower petals at their feet.
It was also at this point that I realized I definitely couldn’t find a pen. Because, even though I normally can’t retrieve a stick of gum from my purse without also pulling a pen and fifteen crayons out, when I actually need a pen they’re gone.
“How about a pen? Do either of you kids have a pen you aren’t telling us about.”
Kids: *without checking* no.
Now in a last ditch effort, the hunt began for a pen. We searched in the door pockets and in the bottom of the diaper bag. We even offered a reward to whichever child would snitch on the other one for having a pen. Time off for good behavior and extra rations for the first to tattle.
I told the husband to go and check in the very backseat with my son, the artist and constant colorer of coloring books.
My husband immediately found a pen amongst my son’s belongings.
Son: I don’t know how that got there….It’s not mine!! Someone planted it! I’ve been framed!!
3 days in solitary for this one.
It was at this point that my husband did one of the most embarrassing things he has ever had to do in his life. He, in his early 30’s, supposedly responsible college graduate and totally pulled together college adult, wrote a check. For one dollar.
I covered my face while he hurriedly did the walk of shame back to the car. He should have been carrying his shoes in his hand at this point.
Our tree is now home, nice and snug in its stand, decorated and twinkling with lights. It’s also tremendously top heavy because we decorated only the top half because #toddler. We kept the kids up two hours past their bedtime to finish the tree, fed them lots of cookies and showed them their ornaments from their first Christmases.
You probably have traditions like this, too. They don’t always make sense to other people, they probably don’t always make sense to you. But they’re yours and it wouldn’t be the holiday season without them.
I say you hang on to as many as you can as the time passes. It was never the perfect dinner or presents that made my holiday. It was the ridiculously large bulbs on the Christmas tree, the mothball smelling stockings and the cinnamon rolls that were slightly burnt on the bottom on Christmas morning. It was a lot of things that other people wouldn’t notice or appreciate.
But they are mine.
Hang on to yours.