Every year I write about how much the holiday season stresses me out. No one likes a complainer or a scrooge, so this year I decided to make a change to assure that I enjoy the month of December to the fullest.
As a small business owner, this is a busy time of year. My shop vends at a lot of holiday markets and online sales pick up - I am SO thankful for this. Prepping for markets and shipping orders I can handle, and it's exciting when my shop is successful. It's all the other things that stress me out - the shopping for gifts, sending out cards, baking and cooking and decorating and blogging and entertaining, and trying to finish all the house projects we procrastinated on before the end of the year. I love doing all these things, but when I have to do it all at once...well, it's a lot. And I realize it's no different for me than for the millions of other humans who celebrate Christmas - this is a busy time of year for everyone.
But that's too much multitasking for me, so I decided to take a step back. I do love Christmas and I think it should be fun, so this year, I was going to do things differently. I wasn't going to stress myself out making hundreds of Christmas ornaments and photographing them. I was going to steer clear of shopping malls and hunker down at home. I was going to take a break from the blog and social media to enjoy my real-life family. I was going to get my shopping and gift wrapping done early and my cards sent out and then during the month of December (in between art markets and packaging shop orders), I was going to relax and do things I enjoy. Holiday dates with my husband. Baking cookies for the fun of it. Sitting by the Christmas tree and reading a book. Watching a movie with flickering candles and a bowl of popcorn. Having friends over for cocktails. Snuggling the puppies in front of the fire. You know, the good stuff: family, friends, food, coziness. But you know what they say about the best laid plans...
Yesterday was a well-deserved day off. The day before was a long day on my feet vending at GRUMP, and I was looking forward to sleeping in and enjoying the day with Larry. We awoke to snow falling on our bedroom skylight - what a perfect Sunday for decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music, and cooking together. By afternoon, the whole house smelled delicious: there was a fresh Christmas tree in the house, apple pie cheesecake bars in the oven, ale-marinated pork loin simmering on the stove, and a rosemary-citrus candle flickering in the living room. We were cozy inside the house as fat snowflakes fell from the sky and the dogs lazed in front of the fireplace - something I was especially grateful for as we remembered that our fireplace was broken last Christmas. We got out some wine and cheese, pulled all the Christmas boxes out of the attic and were ready to deck the halls. It was already December 8th, so although I was a bit behind with my holiday prep, maybe for once, December wasn't going to get the best of me!
My idealized vision for our perfect holiday weekend didn't turn out exactly as I pictured it in my mind: The wedge of brie I had just bought tasted like ass - no biggie, we'll just drink the wine. The recipes we cooked weren't that great - no problem, they can't all be winners. The snow turned to wet nasty sleet, so I couldn't get my family outside to take a Christmas card photo - eh, shit happens, so we'll have to figure out a Plan B. Larry wasn't interested in decorating the tree with me - that's ok, he can watch the game and we'll chat as I string the lights...
Progress! This may have been the first year I managed to string the lights without tears and/or a hissy fit! And the tree was up! With lights! And ornaments! Behold:
Ooh, so beautiful!
And then the tree was down...or almost down. Luckily, being the night owl that I am, I was still sitting by the fire at 1:30 am when it started to topple. I screamed. I caught it. I called to Larry.
The next hour and a half involved head scratching, four letter words, digging through numerous boxes in the utility room for string, shims, and various tools, the removal of a window screen, the de-ornamenting of the tree, crying, and perhaps one of us in the backyard wearing nothing but underwear, crocs, a winter coat, and a headlamp.
And this, my friends, is a DIY Christmas Tree Stand as installed by one former architect and one civil engineer at 3:00 am:
The other end of the cord is wrapped around our Christmas tree inside the house. On the plus side, it managed to hold the tree up all night (or rather, what was left of the night), the barbells didn't come crashing through the window (ending up with a broken window would have been an epic fail!), and Larry and I are still married.
Tree crisis averted! (At least until tomorrow when we try to figure out what the problem is and come up with a permanent solution.)
BUT THEN! Before we went to bed we smelled...GAS. As in natural gas. (I feel the need to specify since I do live with three boys...) Natural gas which was LEAKING FROM OUR FIREPLACE. And to think we were worried about a toppled Christmas tree! Why not add OUR HOUSE JUST GOT BLOWED UP to my list of holiday grievances?
So we turned off the gas. No more fireplace, again. Which is especially troubling since there was an ice storm overnight and while we still have power, many people in the area are without electricity...and heat. Which is generally a good time to have a gas fireplace and a bad time to have a broken gas fireplace.
The ice-coated trees do look beautiful, so I went outside this morning and snapped some photos while trying to appreciate nature and find the silver lining. But then chunks of ice started falling off the trees, so I took that as a cue to get my ass inside so as not to end up with a broken face. A busted fireplace, an ice storm, and a toppled tree...I'm beginning to think we were iced by Scrooge himself!
The moral of this story is wop wop. And also, bah humbug. Scrooge, you win!