Add a new catch phrase to Christmas at the Vaneches: TIMMMMMMBER!
It was already a crazy day — the end to yet another teeth-clenching, chaotic week that had me way behind the eight ball as the Big Day neared. For the first time I can remember, I am not ready for Christmas.
Earlier today, I was convinced that I had it in hand, though. Pie was in the oven at 7 am. Laundry was swishing away, and I was washed, dressed and had changed the sheets by 8 when I sat down to work. I merely had to push my way through a bunch of work tasks and I could turn my attention to the remaining cooking, cleaning, wrapping and packing for the trip to Mom and Dad’s.
It was all good.
And by mid-afternoon, I was feeling pretty smug, in a Wonder Woman kind of way (minus the patriotic shorts and bra top, natch). Then disaster struck. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as the Christmas tree took a header.
I don’t know if it was a statement on how I’d dressed the thing or if perhaps the tree was offering up a sympathy display in recognition of my own exhausted state, but the darn thing was standing tall one minute and lying on the floor in a colorful heap the next.
It was like one of those “America’s Funniest Home Videos” clips minus the laugh track.
Those of you who know me rarely describe me as speechless, and yet I was.
I blinked several times, stared helplessly at the mess, but it didn’t go away. Just then, Basil and Catherine returned from their trek across the street where they were watching two of the neighbor’s kids while she took the third to the ER for stitches (thankfully, the little guy will be OK).
And so the three of us embarked on a new holiday activity: Basil righted the tree, then stood there holding it while Catherine and I collected the biggest bits of ornaments and sopped up the water that had spilled out of the stand and was soaking into the Oriental carpet.
Then I knelt in all the little pieces and rescrewed all the stand screws into the tree trunk while water dripped off the branches and onto my head and little pine needles made their way down my back. Fun times!
I’m happy to note that Catherine hardly missed a text message during this whole affair.
Basil brought the shop vac in from the garage and I set to work scooping up the tiny pieces and pine needles.
Frankly, the job sucked. All but two of my mother’s old-fashioned ornaments were smashed beyond recognition. Huge chunks were gouged out of the hand-painted glass balls. Gone, too, were the ceramic candy cane, glass pickle, and other fragile things. Basil’s cardboard religious icon — the one with a bottle top for a hanger — suffered water damage, as did the white fabric ball with The Advocate/Greenwich Time logo.
It was a sad, sad sight. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, scream or revert to silence. It seemed best to simply set to work putting it all back in order.
As I worked, I made a full assessment, surprised to see that the angel had hung on for dear life to the top of the tree and that the evzone remained in one piece. However, both seem to be wearing strained expressions, as though desperately wanting to be packed away until next year.
The mess is gone, but try as I might, I can’t erase the tree’s new bedraggled look. Guess it must simply stay that way now.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: If a Christmas tree falls in the living room, it makes a sound — a swoosh and tinkle before falling silent in the night.