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Vision of Sugar Plums . . . yeah right.

I have what some would consider a stressful job.  I work primarily in family law and on most days I am at the whim of the people that entrust me with their families. Family law becomes especially hectic and stressful around the holidays.  I write this say - I KNOW STRESS. (Whether I handle stress well is a conversation for another day). But the stress of my job pales in comparison to the stress of putting up the "Begley Family Christmas Tree." 

This year we decided to put the tree up the weekend before Thanksgiving, or maybe I should say, I made the decision to put up the tree and Michael begrudgingly agreed.  We woke up on Saturday and went about our normal day.  I went on a long run, Michael went to Sonic (or as Sam calls in Sonuck) and Finn spent much of his time struggling to figure out how to play his Batman Lego video game. 

We started putting the tree up around 5:00.  As always I waited until the very last second to check the lights and, of course, half of them weren't working. (At least this year I didn't have to cut the pre-lit strands out of the tree).  So at 6:00 I had to send Michael back out for more lights.  

Sam and Daddy decorating the house. 

 As a mom, I have this grand vision in my head about decorating the tree.  I wanted it to be perfect.  I made cookies, I took a shower, fixed my hair, put on make-up and put on a red sweater all in preparation for my "perfect tree decorating experience."  My children had other plans.  Finn had no interest what-so-ever in decorating the tree.  Instead, he sat on the couch and played video games.    In my head I could see  my children sitting on the floor, waiting with bated breath as I strung the Christmas lights.  Reality is a harsh beast. 

    I can say that even though Sam decided to decorate the tree as his alter ego - Batman, he at least brought the enthusiasm that I expect from anyone that shares my DNA.   

After the lights were on, I let Sam help me get out the glass Christmas balls. He really was precious.  

Within five (5) minutes, Sam's enthusiasm meant our first, OF MANY, causalities.  

After the glass balls were perfectly placed, I got out the "good stuff." These are the Keepsake Ornaments that I have collected over the years.  Finn's ears perked up when he saw the first Mickey ornament.  My heart filled with joy as both of my children sat down next to me and eagerly looked at the Christmas ornaments.  I began to recall that Christmas commercial where the children are pouring over memories of what the ornaments on their tree commemorate.  It was at that moment that I see Sam stick his sweet little hand into the box and pull out an ornament.  I helped him open the box and then set the delicate little ornament in his hand.  He looked at the ornament then looked at me and smiled.  Then with all the excitement he could muster, he closed his hand as hard as his could around my ornament and all I could hear was "crunch."  

Despite my trepidation, I decided to power on.  I told Sam to be more careful and he agreed to do so. 

Our approach was simple enough, take all of the ornaments out of the box, put them in a pile and then put them on the tree. Finn proved to be a great hindrance in this process.  I am very, very careful with the packaging of my ornaments.  I keep all the original boxes and packaging.  I admit, I should've been paying more attention to Finn, but with Sam simulating a very violent fight between my "Harry Potter Quiddich" ornament and my "Polar Peek Patrol" ornament, there just wasn't enough of me to go around.  It was only when I started to hear the distinctive tear of cardboard that I was brought back to reality.  

I look up to see that Finn is literally tearing into my "Legal Beagle" ornament box. (Finn, you can take this up with Nana).   I then look over to see a mound of empty boxes and mismatched plastic molding. 

I had reached my breaking point.  

Not only did I not have one dewy-eyed picture of my children gazing at the tree, nor did I have one picture of myself looking like the "perfect mom" trimming the tree with my well-behaved children and adoring husband looking on, I had several broken ornaments and a sobbing Sam. Sam was sobbing because I demanded that both he and Finn step away from the ornaments and only come back into the vicinity on pain of death. Okay, I didn't say that.  But Sam could clearly feel that very sentiment radiating out of my pores. 

I don't say it enough - but I am thankful for my laid back, flip-flop wearing, greasy headed husband who kindly reminded me to be gentle with our very excited and very rambunctious boys.  After all, wasn't it I that wanted the boys to be excited about putting up the Christmas tree?  As usual, he was right.  I gave the boys a hug and we continued to put ornaments on the tree.  I did get to tell Finn and Sam a little bit about the ornaments - not that they gave two licks, but I was happy.  And wasn't this really about my experience all along?

 Oh, and back to that hypothetical question - "didn't you want the boys to be excited about putting up the tree?"  Well . . . be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. 

The next morning I did manage to get a few of my "picturesque" pictures of Sam and the tree. As we were going into the kitchen for breakfast, Sam looked at me and said, "the tree is bu-ti-ful" then he asked when he could put the star on the top of the tree. I melted for just a moment.  But alas, the moment abruptly ended as we watched Sam grab onto the branches of the tree and spin the entire tree, (light cords plugged in and all) around and around inside the tree base. 

Have I mentioned that I love my children.  Because, I do.  I sure do love those boys.  


  1. Well done...the tree looks great! Just a suggestion....wait until the boys go to bed to put the keep sake things on the tree and then share & point them out to them later when you can keep them at a safe distance.... just a thought...

  2. Alright Erma (as in Bombeck) this is one of your best yet! I can't wait for the book to come out! Funny, very funny!!!


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