We got our Christmas tree tonight. We tried to go on Sunday, but by the time Kate’s lacrosse practice was over, Emma’s small group was finished, Ryan’s Cleveland Browns had destroyed my poor Bengals and the Atlanta United soccer game was over, we found out that Ace was closed. And, yes, we get our Christmas tree from Ace Hardware. In Cincinnati, we used to get it from the Mariemont Boy Scout Tree Sale and it was a little bit magical with hot chocolate and familiar faces and all of our money going to a good cause. But after shopping several different tree places last year, the most affordable place with the best trees was Ace. I’m sure there are better and more magical places to acquire a tree, but with a lacrosse tournament looming this weekend and a lot of Christmas spirit to be had right now, we just needed to get it done. And Wednesday is the only night this week that was open. So Wednesday is the day we set aside for the festive and merry buying of the Christmas tree!
And in my imagination, it went something like this:
I would be showered, have done my hair and wear something cute and wintery. I even thought we could snap a cute family picture since we didn’t really have one for the Christmas cards I haven’t made yet. Dinner would be ready when we got home and we would set up the tree, have a meal as a family and decorate the tree together. We’d listen to Christmas music, enjoy all of our family ornaments and make our own hot chocolate.
Except that’s not what happened.
At 5:04, Ryan opened the doors of this office and announced that it was time to leave and get the tree. I had just started cooking onions and needed a few minutes. After he yelled for the girls, for the third time, he said that if I wasn’t ready that they could just get the tree without me. Which elicited an ugly look from me and so as he quickly left to warm up the car, he reminded me that Ace closed at 6.
Feeling grumbly about the fact that I was almost left at home with my onions, was still unshowered from bootcamp (which means I had been marinating in my post-workout clothes for five hours) and also that dinner wasn’t even close to being finished, we were already leaving on the wrong foot. I forgot about the Christmas music I was going to play on the way to Ace Hardware and instead, I just felt annoyed.
Instead of us saying things like, What kind of tree do you want to get? and Let’s get a picture together! or I can’t wait to decorate!
We said things like, I have a ton of homework to do. and Wow, this is super fun… just like all our family outings. and Will you please put-your-phones-away for-the-love.
Once we got to the tree lot (read: parking lot), we were all still a little grumpy with one another. But I had silently (and graciously, I might add) forgiven Ryan for almost leaving me behind and now we were both just irritated with our teenage children and their attitudes. So we split up and the teenagers went one way to take pictures of each other and the adults when another way to find an actual Christmas tree. Just some good old fashioned family fun!
We are home now and both girls are upstairs and Ryan and I have done all of the usual heaving and tree-hugging and anchoring it takes to get the tree into its base, kicking ourselves for not bringing the tree base to the Ace Hardware people who told us that they would happily put the tree in its base for us. If we had it. Which we didn’t.
And I will make dinner. And we will decorate the tree. And by that I mean, I will put on all the lights by myself (because it is the most hateful job during the entire holiday season) and eventually the girls will come downstairs (mostly for food). And we will open up all of our many decades worth of ornaments. We’ll relive memories all over again… ornaments from the year we were married and the years the kids were born (and Kate will lament —again — that she doesn’t have as many ornaments as Emma and she will be right), ornaments from years that we bought new houses and times we ran marathons, ornaments from students I used to teach and some from when I was younger than our girls, ornaments that my sister-in-law and her family make every year and ones that mark vacations. We’ll promise that we’ll get rid of some of these because they aren’t really relevant or they’re just so ugly or they’re basically held together with dust, but we know we won’t.
And I’m sure that there will be some grumbling and complaining and I probably won’t shower until right before I go to bed… but hopefully I won’t care all that much. Partly because I’ve decided to have wine instead of hot chocolate and also because even though we got our tree from the Ace Hardware parking lot, there’s still a little Christmas magic.