As I write this, I am huddled in my semi-warm winter coat, alternately shivering and rethinking my statement that the original windows in this house are so much more charming than new ones would be. Writing while shivering in a thin winter coat makes me feel like something out of a Dickens novel. Which makes me feel very literary. Or poor.
Either way, I get a warm inner glow every time I glance to my left and see the festive splendor of my own blazing Christmas tree. Yes – the lights are on, and will remain on whenever I am in close proximity to my tree. If need be, I’ll turn off every light and electrical appliance in the house to make up for this gluttonous attack on the earth’s waning resources. I’ll even turn down the already insufficient heat. I love my tree just that much.
As you may have guessed by now, I can decorate the hell out of a Christmas tree. It’s one of my great talents in life, and every year my home is graced by yet another Christmas tree triumph. This is one area in which I throw any sense of humility out the window. I’m can confidently claim that my Christmas tree kicks your Christmas tree’s ass.
You are probably thinking that my family is very lucky to have this kind of genius on their side. Well – I don’t know if they’d agree. You see the price that everyone pays for my mad Christmas tree decorating skillz is that they don’t get to have any fun with it. And that’s my Friday Confession this week. I am a Christmas Tree Nazi.
Brief disclaimer here: I am not in any way supporting or condoning the Nazi movement. My children are not joining the Reichs of Hitler Youth and I am not a racist psychopath with mommy issues. I’m basing the title “Christmas Tree Nazi” on the famous “Soup Nazi” character from Seinfeld. So on the almost impossible chance that you have never heard of this character and had no idea what I’m talking about – please be assured. I am not an actual Nazi.
That out of the way – I am a total bitch when it comes to my Christmas tree. I have definite ideas about where the ornaments should be placed and how the various colors and styles should be distributed. I like a symmetrical tree. A messy looking tree doesn’t bother me if it’s in someone else’s house (it in fact, just reaffirms my own superiority in the tree decorating realm). But the idea of a haphazard looking tree in my own home makes me die a little inside. The only way to achieve the level of perfection that I demand is to be very rigid and controlling, and even strategic about the tree decorating process. And believe me – I’ve got this covered.
I can currently get away with excluding my children based on their ages and lack of attention span. But I know that they will eventually want to participate. I just plan to cross that bridge when I come to it. And possibly buy a “kids’ tree” for them to do with as they like. Their father has fond memories of decorating his own kids’ tree with Star Wars action figures. So I expect he will be supportive my multiple tree plan. In fact, I’m sure he’ll be happy because he’s not currently allowed to help decorate our Christmas tree either. He may as well be one of the kids. The first year we had a tree together, I had to linger behind him rearranging his more bizarre ornament placement choices.
So the Hood family tree decorating tradition does not include the sound of laughter, storytelling and favorite Christmas carrols. There are no childish squeals of delight when someone finds the perfect spot for that favorite ornament (okay – maybe a few, but only if I’m really excited). And there is no closing ceremony of a tiny hand placing our angel at the top.
Instead there is about an hour of lights detail with meticulous care taken to make the tree appear to glow from within. Then there are about 20 minutes of bow placement. And finally, unlimited time is devoted to the actual ornaments.
My ornaments are packed away so carefully that the box would most likely survive a three thousand foot freefall from a cessna flying over rush hour traffic. Since they rarely break, I have finally accumulated enough to transition out the “filler” ornaments (plain gold balls from Michael’s) that I had to use for my first tree. I really do love my delicate antique ornaments and dread the day that they are pushed aside for the kids’ school project ones involving dry pasta or styrofoam.
But I also know that when that day does arrive, I will embrace it with the same pride and enthusiasm I apply to their current toddler achievements. Such as figuring out how to take off their pants and run around outside before I realize they’re gone. Just kidding – I really will be proud of those pre-school ornament projects. And after an appropriate amount of oohing and aahing, I will direct them to the kids’ tree where these masterpieces can be displayed to their best advantage.
Look – I know this sounds really obnoxious. But it IS a confession. So that should earn me at least a few good person points right? Being able to identify the problem and that being half the battle and all… But to give you a sense of where this Christmas tree decorating hubris is coming from (just a sense since no picture can truly do my creations justice), here is a picture I took yesterday:
And here is another one without the flash:
Photographer, I’m not – so like I said, these pictures don’t really capture the magic of this year’s Christmas tree. But they do capture the completely neurotic obsession with perfect symmetry which is at the heart of this psychopathic holiday behavior. And as far as holiday photography goes, capturing the true spirit of the Christmas Tree Nazi is half the battle.