There are very few things that make me get ugly. I’m not a PMS’er, don’t get stressed out easily, takes a LOT to make me mad. But Christmas decorating seems to be high on the list. I am not a decorator – I don’t enjoy it – don’t have the eye or the patience for it. That’s part of it. The second part is that when your children are gone, it’s lonely and depressing. When the kids were little, we would crank the Christmas music up loud and spend the day decorating, cleaning up the mess and then fall on the couch with exhaustion and the joy of how beautiful everything was. Now everyone has their own house to decorate and we’re all so busy, so it’s up to me. I begin to dread it when the stores start putting their wares out (which seems like it’s now August!). I tried to hire someone to help me this year, but I waited too long and their timeline didn’t work with mine.
So knowing it was going to take me forever, I started earlier this week dragging the trees out. I usually put up three trees – a sentimental kid ornament tree, a gorgeous gold and blingy tree and a brown/bronze color tree upstairs in our media room. What always stresses me out is the lights. It’s always the lights. Not fluffing the tree out, fighting the different parts of the tree to make sure you did them in order. No, it’s the lights. Or should I call them “the darks.” I don’t know about you, but I think those lights have it out for me. They’ll work one year (MAYBE), and then the next year, they don’t work. Shake them a bit and maybe they’ll come on for a while – just until you get everything done and are ready to call it good, then they go out again.
My friend Vickie used to help me, and she moved this year, so on top of the depression of the kids being grown and gone, Vickie is gone too. Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself. That starts this saga off great…oh, and did I mention that my husband always disappears during decorating time? I mean literally disappears – goes to the office, to the farm, somewhere to hide. And when he returns, he’s full of compliments about how wonderful everything looks. Sometimes a compliment can make you want to tear someone’s head off, you know? When they COULD HAVE helped but didn’t, and then they are so nice about what all you’ve done while you are so mad about all you’ve done BY YOURSELF.
So I start with the tree that’s the sentimental one. This tree is 9 feet high, very thick and bushy – gorgeous when working. I put the tree up – bottom part lights but for one part I can hide with a small set of lights. Next section, lights almost all out. I put new fuses in, one set lights up. Three other sets – nothing. I use that little “light fixer” tool and they don’t light. There are already “extra” lights on this tree besides the ones that are implanted in the branches. So it’s kind of junky. I’m frustrated, sweating, have spent over an hour on this one tree and I’m at ground zero.
I decide to move to another tree just to get my frustration level down. Work on the one in the media room – it goes up well and most of the lights light but for a small spot I can hide. Woohoo – blood pressure going down. My great-niece and nephew were coming to help decorate, and Laney and Millie, and Talia and Molli. They show up about the time I got one tree almost done. Molli suggests I just buy a bunch of lights and put on the problem tree, so when she runs to Walmart for something else, I have her get me lights. We spent the day basically playing with the kids as it was too chaotic to get much decorating done, but it was a great day. By the time all but the two older kids were left, we were tired, but I successfully erected the 12-foot blingy tree in our foyer. Talia had worked on the lights on it, and we were in trouble – about a third weren’t working. She was frustrated and ready to give up when I realized that she had plugged the lights into each other instead of on the correct string and voila, we had a mostly-lit tree!
That tree is so tall and is seated on a rise that’s two steps up, so there’s nowhere you can get a ladder hardly, so I have to stand on the top of a ladder and use grill tongs to put the ornaments on. Tyler came over one night when I was doing that and he says, “You know you’re a redneck when you decorate your tree with grilling implements.” I always laugh now when I am about to fall off the ladder while trying to reach part of this tree with those tongs. So that ends Day 1 of the decorating saga – two trees up, house destroyed and wrecked with glitter and boxes, etc. Tree 1 is still unlit and staring me in the face as my failure. I get up the next morning and make the executive decision to just buy a new tree. The lights just are not going to work, and stringing more on top of a bunch of old junky ones is going to make a tree full of wires and hardly any branches.
Run to Walmart and pick up a new 9-foot tree. Drag it home, tear down the other one, get it back in boxes (which I should say Tom did help with this part…), and put the new tree up. Can you guess where this is going? Not all the lights work. Brand new tree. I try to replace the fuse in the unlit set – no dice. My blood pressure is rising, and I need to calm down, so I begin to drag out all the other greenery and miscellaneous stuff while I settle down. I’ve already been to Kroger that morning, done a bunch of other errands, so I don’t feel like dragging that tree back to Walmart. I work on other things, end up breaking one of my favorite HUGE bulbs, dropping it from the top of the ladder, and it went everywhere. Then the sweeper won’t work…..
So this story isn’t ten pages, I will give you the short version: Another trip to Walmart to replace the NEW tree, had an entire mantel decorated and it was sort of precariously put together, and one touch and the whole thing fell off – all the greenery – some huge silver candlesticks that broke a glass globe and did three big gouges in the wood floor. Sweeper still won’t work. Two or three other things happened that I cannot recall right now. All of which made me truly want to run away from home or sit down and bawl. By the time Tom returned home, it was not pretty. I was ready to explode, and he happened to just pop in from his hiding place, looking all rested and relaxed. Needless to say, I didn’t greet him with a kiss and hug but probably more of a force field that screamed “Do not touch me, speak to me, say a word about why I didn’t get more done all day.”
I am still not done, but while trying not to explode, God reminded me that we are just like my Christmas tree. We are created for a purpose – one purpose – to be a light. And why is it we don’t light up? Why is it we blow fuses? I wonder how God puts up with us, I truly do. When I get my tree out, all it has to do is light up – one small thing. Sometimes it will; sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it partially lights, then if you shake it real good, it will light – that is, until you touch it the wrong way. The analogies to our Christian walk go on and on. We are meant to be a light in this world, but when we blow a fuse, we not only ceased to be a light – we just became an excuse for people to remain in darkness. They don’t want something that isn’t consistent, that isn’t reliable, that doesn’t warm a room. When you blow a fuse, not only does your light not shine, but you just gave them another excuse. And when year by year, you change whether you’re a light or not, there’s another excuse. And when God shakes you up and you get hot and light up but then shortly grow cold and dark, you’ve provided the world another reason not to want this Christ you claim to believe in.
Oh, Lord, help us to live our daily lives in ways that reflect your love, not our frustrations with worldly things like broken bulbs and keeping a record of wrongs and feeling sorry for ourselves. Thank you for teaching me, showing me your love and correction when I need it. My desire is to be a light that stays lit …..
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.