I have long been desensitized to the comings and goings of items on, under, and around the Christmas tree. The self-induced blindness was a necessary coping mechanism for me as an obsessive compulsive person, borderlining on disorder, sharing the Christmas season with, first animals and now, children.
The process began about eight years ago after Amanda and I put up the tree in our first home and the kittens promptly undecorated the bottom branches, climbed ¾ the way to the top and perched on the inside of a branch for a nap. Two days later, we returned from shopping and did not see the tree in the window of the house. It was in the floor and we picked it up and reset it with the ornaments we could find, a process we repeated two more times before Christmas Day arrived.
During that first Christmas, we adopted a rule that any ornament we found on the floor after it “fell” from the tree would be placed in a box and salvaged for next year. We had a fully decorated tree top by Christmas, with more natural looking lower branches.
The next Christmas I knew what to expect and I had well learned to not see ornaments and scraps of papers from the wrapped presents in the floor. We had also added a new member to the fold who kept some control over, or at least provided interference to, the kitten activities with the Christmas tree. The cats of course did not appreciate having to succumb to the larger physical presence, and hence authority, of Georgia Brown Dog regarding the Christmas decorations. And that is why they tried to kill her.
When Georgia came into the house the year after the cats, we knew she would likely be interested in chewing the Christmas ornaments, as would any other four month old Labrador retriever. For this reason, we decorated the bottom of the tree with plastic, wooden and cloth ornaments, placing just a few glass balls toward the top. The day after the decorating was complete, I heard a crunching in the kitchen and walked in to find Georgia chomping on little pieces of glass, bleeding from the mouth and attempting to understand what had become of the pretty purple ball that had just been in front of her. By extreme fortune, she had a scheduled vet appointment the next day and had no damage from the incident. While I did not see the situation resulting in that ball falling from the tree, I have no doubt that the cats we fully involved and acted with full knowledge of the results of their actions.
With such a history, I was decently prepared for the addition of children to the list of Christmas tree admirers and undecorators in our home. I have become skilled at kicking an ornament, sending it gliding across the hardwood floor, so it comes to rest underneath the tree. I no longer have to pick the decorations up and put them back on the tree and torn wrapping paper doesn’t not bother me as long as the gift underneath is not completely visible. Partial visibility is solved not by re-wrapping, but by turning the other direction. [Note from Amanda: Now that Ella is learning to write, many of the presents weren't just partially unwrapped, they also had her name scrawled across them in Magic Marker. You are a special person if you got one of those presents this Christmas!] If a strand of lights goes out, so be it. Out of necessity, I pay very little attention and we are all much happier for it.
This was my first year with two mobile children at Christmas and I could have easily driven myself crazy had the cats and dog not taught me to cope with the tree situation. By Christmas morning, the presents underneath our tree sat in the midst of several ornaments, shreds of paper and other small pieces of trash, and toys. Luke’s “drop it wherever the urge to move on to something else hits” mentality combined with my “don’t stress about what’s going on under the tree” attitude allowed the underneath of the tree to become somewhat of a toy box for the children.
And then on Christmas morning, I was completely taken aback and stunned to the point of tears by what transpired from underneath and around that tree. We had a living room full of presents and Ella was helping her Mommy hand them out. I don’t know the exact number, but there were presents from four separate households dispersed. The process took about fifteen minutes. After the morning presents were handed out, a few were left under the tree that were for our afternoon guests. When everyone had their presents, I expected Ella would tear into her stack, as would be expected for any three year old. Instead, the following conversation transpired.
Ella (moving to the back corner of the tree where the presents for the afternoon company were): Mommy, you have a few more over here.
Amanda: No baby. Those are for this afternoon.
Ella: No Mommy, these are for you.
And Ella retrieved her own small purses from the underneath the Christmas tree and handed them to Amanda saying, “These are your presents Mommy.” And Amanda opened each one to find that Ella had wrapped a few items inside to give to her for Christmas.
|Ella's presents for Mommy|