“The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry.” Or so says Robert Burns and in his footsteps Steinbeck and in his footsteps everyone else, ever. And as one who likes to believe that it is entirely possible to have ones cake and eat it too (just get two pieces, obviously) I’ll be the first to shout “Damn you Burns! You’re wrong!” into the wind. But if I have learned anything over the last 25 holiday seasons it is that Mr. Burns was absolutely correct, if we are taking into consideration the month of December.
From cats getting into poinsettias to spilling hot chocolate all over 35 hand-writen-on-expensive-stationary Christmas Cards, from baby Jesus throwing up during the Christmas pageant to getting my car impounded and having to spend the night at a first-date’s siblings house under the Christmas tree, from chipping a tooth on Epiphany cake to doing too many shots with my boss… the holiday season is one that has the best intentions and the worst turn out.
But as I start the holiday season off every year thinking, this year was going to be perfect. Cards were going to be written immediately after American Thanksgiving, presents were going to be done by yesterday, and the tree… the tree was going to be the most spectacular Martha Stewart tree this town had ever seen.
Honestly, I was off to a good start. And then exams and birthdays and cold season descended and my “best laid schemes” started to “go awry.” I had one final hope though, and it wasn’t Obi Wan Kenobi. It was the tree. This apartment has amazing 12 foot ceilings and when I moved in, the first thing I thought was “holy crap, Christmas will be epic.” Equipped with a pick up truck, flannel, Hunters & hiking boots, saw & axe, Tim Hortons, and strong armed men we set off on Saturday morning like true Canadians, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.
We eventually found one, nestled somewhere up in the hills between sagebrush and cactus, and after a successful topping job, got the twelve foot wonder into the truck, out of the truck, through the door and, lo and behold, standing.
At about 6pm last night, the tree was complete. Sparkly balls (?), glittery ribbon and white lights. It was almost perfect. If only the top bent just slightly to the right.
By 8pm, G. was tired of me complaining (I don’t blame him. I have one of those nagging voices): “I wish it was more straight.” “Wahh, I can’t fit the top in the Instagram frame because IT’S CROOKED!” “It would be perfect. If it was two inches to the right.” “I know, isn’t it stunning? Just ignore the top part. It’s temporarily misguided.”
He decided to do some sort of manly adjustment that involved fishing line going from brick to tree to brick and for a moment it truly started to look like it was supposed to (perfect). And then I heard this slow motion “Ohhh shiiiit” and a girl-squeel (probably me) and the entire twelve feet of glorious & perfect Christmas cheer came smashing into the center of the living room. After locating my 100 pound roommate and her boyfriend under the meter of pine needles and learning everyone was okay, it was an immediate rush to right the tree, clean up the 6 cups of water off the hardwood, and sweep up the shattered balls (again, ?)
We had G. being all “Fuck this!” “I just ruined Christmas!” “Now I know why my Dad hates putting up the God Damn tree so much!” and so forth and so on. We had people attempting to straighten the tree for the third time and get it secure again, and we had me… drinking and watching. Because I don’t do trees.
The tree was put up again, the lights turned on, the shattered ornaments swept into the trash and more beers were opened. And then, as luck would have it, the tree decided it didn’t like it’s new position and fell over again, spilling mulled wine and Stella and smashing more balls.
“Shoot” said Marla “Shouldn’t have gotten the 9 ft stand…”
Eventually, as these things tend to, it worked itself out. And by that, I mean I watched while other people worked it out. Because, like I mentioned, I don’t do trees. The tree, finally upright, looked like it had been through a war. More crooked than before and with only a quarter of the ornaments. Ribbon that now looked like toilet paper hung down its sides.
“We’ll deal with this in the morning” was the consensus. (FYI, we haven’t. The tree is still standing though, so that’s a start. To be honest, I’m scared to touch the monster.)
As we called her a night G. was like “I’m so sorry for ruining the tree” and I was tired and full of mulled wine so just laughed and patted him on the head like a normal person would do. But in my mind I was all “No, Thank You. You made Christmas Christmas.”
Because it doesn’t matter how much effort we put into the holidays… Christmas cards will get lost in the postal sort system, flights will be delayed because of weather, our shortbread will still not taste like our mothers, the tree will inevitably ending up having a Charlie Brown flare, baby Jesus will get sick all over Mary, we won’t be able to find a dishcloth for Joseph to wear on his head, we’ll choose to burn real frankincense and accidentally get ourselves stoned, someone’s Dad will pass out with his head up the chimney looking for Santa and our gingerbread houses will end up looking like shit. That’s what the season is all about – putting in effort and experiencing real life (and all it’s messiness) with our loved ones.
Maybe it’s time that we realize nothing will ever turn out the way we picture it (or want it to)
…unless we shell out the big bucks. Because I bet Martha Stewart could fix this tree.
xo & yw