Does putting up the Christmas tree turn you into the scary Control Freak Mommy? Hmm, maybe it’s just me then. I always start calm and patient, our favorite holiday tunes playing in the background. That lasts under an hour before I’m chasing La Principessa, begging her to “look-with–your-eyes-and-not-your-hands-Nana-gave-me that-pretty-shiny-antique-glass-ball-please-put-it-down-gently-no-don’t-toss.” When she was a toddler, we stopped putting up a tree because we couldn’t afford the armed guard to stand sentry. By now, she’s stopped taking a flying leap onto the tree.
All she wants is to help. So while, her “helping” often sends me into spasms, I give it my all to be a more patient mommy. That’s the point of the holidays, isn’t it – spending fun time with your loved ones.
This year, I let her cavort among the ornament boxes and examine all the waiting treasures. Except the special family ornaments – Control Freak Mommy hid those until she went to bed! I could hear her rummaging in a box of tinsel, ribbons and some inexpensive glass balls. I left to answer the phone. When I returned, the tree looked like the garland box had vomited a random collection of colors, textures and shapes into the branches. A few glass ornaments were rolling, unattached, along the tops of branches. Deep breath. Through gritted teeth, I asked her to rearrange the ribbons and garland so that they were all going across or up and down. But not woven loosely together like a placemat. Insulted, she dragged the giant garland box into the hall away from me. I went to work on a different issue: the tree topper problem.
Elaborate bows, stars, angels – we never got it quite right. The most recent attempt involved a paper mache Santa perched on the top stem. It looked more like an impaled warning to anyone threatening to breach our chimney. This year I am fixated on some nifty-looking hand-crafted pom poms on Pinterest I folded and slice and tweaked and shaped red tissue paper into a festive poof. I refer to it as the paper rose topiary, although Daddy-O threatens to tear up “that ridiculous puff thing.” Well, I’d seen Martha Stewart create pom poms for baby showers and they sure looked festive. Mine? Not so much festive as a red blob, waving in the breeze. Back to the drawing board.
I then heard rustling – not usually a good thing. I found La Principessa in the hall finishing her masterwork – connecting every doorknob on the first floor with miles of garland -- crystals, tinsel, wooden beads. You name it, she had strung it up around the house like a laser booby trap in the underground vault of an evil genius. She had the tension tight enough so I could barely crack a door – and when I did two other doors rattled around the corner or down the hall. As I explained the flaw in her decorating plan, she was defiantly unbelieving, then sheepish and finally amused and self- satisfied. I suppose I should just give up now, make some hot chocolate and start bowling with those special family ornaments!