Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Keeping it Simple
In late November two years ago, I tore my rotator cuff. Surgery was not an option. To heal naturally meant avoiding as much movement as possible in my left shoulder and arm. What to do about Christmas? I couldn't lift and tug and reach. I had to depend on Mike, my husband, and Michael, my son to do the decorating.
Mike and Michael did a pretty good job of decorating the tree and the house as I pointed (with my right arm) and gave direction. They tolerated my orders pretty well at the beginning, but at the end of the second day, they'd just about had enough of me.
Christmas came and went. When it came time to put everything away, I left them to the task without supervision. Mistake, big mistake.
Last year when it came time to decorate for Christmas, I was ready to decorate big. Shoulder had healed and I was ready to make up for the previous year. Mike and Michael brought all the decorations and tree up from the basement. Michael and Ashley put the tree together and got the lights working. We started to pull out the decorations. At first, I was annoyed, then angry. The decorations were a mess. Ornaments were tangled and broken. The baby Jesus was missing from the Nativity. It got really ugly from there. The tree was up and I decorated as high as Ashley and I could reach. (Ashley's not much taller than me.) At the end of the day, everything was partially done. We never finished. The ugliness hung over the holidays like a fog, nothing substantial, but the disappointment was there every time I entered the living room and saw the partially decorated tree and mantel.
This year just before Thanksgiving, I asked if we could decorate early. My family was coming for Thanksgiving dinner and I wanted for them to see our house decorated for Christmas. Mike turned me down flat. I was frustrated and just on the verge of angry ... just like last year. I let the anger go and concentrated on Thanksgiving. Mike and I did a fantastic job getting the house tidied up, decluttered, and prepared for Thanksgiving. Mike did most of the cooking and my family cleaned up after the big meal.
I felt so thankful for such a wonderful Thanksgiving, I decided I was not going to obsess over Christmas. But how could I make that happen with the Christmas decorations a complete mess? My blood pressure went up any time I thought of seeing the boxes of decorations coming up from the basement. Maybe I should just skip decorating or maybe put out a couple of things and let it go. If I did that, my mom would be so disappointed in ME. She loves decorating for Christmas. I knew I had to do some decorating or I would be mad at myself for giving in to the anger.
Last Sunday I gave Michael instructions to find a 5 gallon bucket and a shovel. I asked Mike to put on a coat and get in the truck. I explained the plan to find just the perfect tree. My plan was to drive along the road by our house and dig up a tree. Not an evergreen, just a bare branch tree, lots of limbs, no leaves, no needles. Mike and Michael got caught up in the moment and started pointing out potential trees. No, too big. Nah, not quite enough limbs. Not that one, it's not got a good shape. Then we saw it, a pretty good tree. Well, it looked pretty good from the truck.
Mike and Michael jumped out and started to dig. I drove down the road and turned the truck around. Michael dug for a while then Mike. Then Michael. Then Mike. It took a bit of digging, but we got most of the taproot and a good bit of dirt to hold the tree in the bucket.
The tree was much bigger in our driveway than it looked from the truck. It took quite a bit of manuevering to get the 16 ft. redbud in the house. We knocked pictures off the wall and glasses off the counter. But instead of getting mad, we laughed at ourselves and the simple tree.
We didn't bring a single decoration up from the basement. A quick trip to the Dollar Tree and two or three trips to Michael's. Simple clear LED lights. Simple homemade paper ornaments. A few small silver balls. A few small red balls.
I am keeping it simple this year. So far.
PS I found the baby Jesus. I'm planning on braving the basement to retrieve the rest of the set. Call 911 if you don't hear from me.