In my dream, the whole experience of putting up a fresh Christmas tree was supposed to be magical

Real Christmas trees have been off limits in my house for nearly 20 years, a rule enforced by my fire investigator husband, who insists live trees are too likely to catch on fire.  This year I was sick of fake trees and wanted one with a real pine scent and branches that don't have big gaping holes.  I wanted my dream tree, the one right out of the Hallmark Christmas movies I can't get enough of.

So, when my hubby was out of town last week, I knew I had to get a tree, no matter what.  Fortunately, I have good eavesdropping skills, and a band parent in the row behind me at the school holiday concert leaked that there were five extra trees left over from the fundraiser,and wanted to know if her friend knew of anyone who still needed a tree. It was hard but I waited to the end of the concert, and then sprinted to find the volunteer in charge of the Christmas tree sale.  My quest?  To make sure that I got one of those five trees.

The next day the Christmas tree of my dreams was delivered by the same parent volunteer,  She took my $40 and waved goodbye, telling me to make sure I cut one or two inches off with a saw.  That's where the reality set in. There were four major ways the reality wasn't like my dreams:

1. I had to wait 8 hours for my husband to get home from his business trip so I could confess that I bought a real tree behind his back, and have him saw the tree for me.. In my dream, my kids and I would put the tree in the stand, string the lights. decorate it beautifully, and my husband would come home and instantly see the beauty and be a believer in real trees.

2. I had to lug the heavy tree into my overly crowded garage by myself, as none of the kids was excited about the real tree enough to leave their screens behind.  I filled the wash basin with water and lugged it into the garage, and then I had to soak the tree overnight, or else the tree may catch on fire, and then my husband would really kill me. In my mind, the tree would go into the stand instantly and just need a little water at the bottom.

3. It took a long, long, long time for us to get the tree placed in the tree stand so the tree stood straight without leaning heavily to one side or falling over.. Again, I thought placing the real tree in the stand would take minutes.  My kids and I were newbies so it took a lot of trial and error and Google searches before we got it right.

4.  There was a lot of fighting between me and my kids as the tree was set up. We played the blame game.  My teenage daughter yelled "you're not holding the tree right!" and then insulted my tree by calling it stupid, and then yelling "This is the worst Christmas ever:". I whined that it was too heavy and said I couldn't hold it any longer. She panicked because the screw covers fell off and the screws were in so deep that the bark was falling off  and sap was oozing out of the trunk.  My daughter fired me from the job of holding up the tree and gave the job to her brother, who quickly starting bickering, complaining and whining. I thought we'd listen to Christmas carols, feel the holiday magic, and sip hot cocoa.  Instead, it was 80 degrees outside (Florida)  and even hotter inside with all the yelling.

It wasn't like anything out of my dream.  It was real and ugly and funny. By the time it ended, I had lowered my standards a lot.  I just went for a tree that is basically straight and a family that talks to each other. I didn't even correct my daughter who put up the lights on the bottom of the tree, even though there may have been a gaping area with no lights. The stress of making it perfect just isn't wroth it.  In fact, it's still not decorated with any ornaments.  I'm recovering from the trauma of putting it up, and taking my good sweet time.  Life is real and wonderful and messy.  I don't want to be the stressed out, frazzled, crazy mama this Christmas. I'm going to slow down, put my feet up on the ottoman, and smell the aroma of fresh pine.  Real life is pretty good.

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