My daughter loves to post this photo around the holiday every year as her profile picture on Facebook. That's me. This isn't staged. I'm not drunk. I just used to be intoxicated on perfection. It's a great reminder of what happens when that is your goal during the holidays.
This debacle happened six years ago. My kids, husband (who I was dating at the time) and I were putting up the tree. While the rest of them acted as if this process was akin to having a rectal exam, I kept analyzing the slight 3% tilt to the right that this tree was taking. The whole process, along with my OCD (obsessive compulsive decorator), was taking its toll.
"Fine, we're done for now," I declared as I went to pout on the sofa. I spent the rest of the evening staring at that hopeless-looking tree just waiting for everyone to leave so I could begin my intervention.
Lee FINALLY went home. The kids FINALLY went to bed and I went to work. No one would be the wiser - except that tree knew what I was up to. I laid on the floor and wedged my body beneath its branches as I began cramming a towel under one side of the stand.
At first, the tree did a little dance. Ignoring this obvious sign that I was doing something incredibly useless and stupid, I kept forcing the issue. Then I felt a stronger migration south. Finally it pitched heavily to my left. And there she went in slow motion as if someone yelling "timber" had beckoned her down. In typical fashion the cats scattered in every direction but mine to save themselves from harm. The dogs scurried over to lick my face in an attempt at resuscitation if necessary. Worst of all, I could hear my kids coming down the hall.
"Really? You had to mess with it?" my son said flatly from around the corner.
"Well, don't just stand there, dammit, get this tree off of me," I demanded.
"Not until I get the camera," my daughter howled, clearly undaunted by my aggravated mom voice.
"Oh no you don't," I screamed.
And there you have it. I'm a dropout from holiday finishing school.
I realize some people can pull this kind of perfection off without the use of pharmaceuticals. I'm not one of them.
They have the gift of transforming their home into a Pottery Barn catalog with their themed tree and festively-adorned dining room tables. Some people think having multiple trees is a good idea.
They have the J.Crew family photo cards. They bake delicious cookies that are impeccably decorated. They plan the perfect parties with shrimp and brie and roasted vegetables with artichoke dip.
Well, this holiday home girl has her own ideas.
My tree looks like someone vomited decades of bedraggled Popsicle sticks, frayed little pompoms and elementary school photos all over it. I'd go through getting my wisdom teeth extracted again before setting up and decorating a second tree. And I had a dry socket.
My special china? I use the leftover Wedgwood from my first marriage that screams Fourth of July. My reindeer-shaped sugar cookies look more like flattened roadkill out of the oven.
The only way I'd host a party in December is if it was B.Y.O.E. -- bring your own everything, including a cleaning crew and an outfit I can wear.
I'll wrap a present with masking tape if need be and by noon on the 25th, my feet are up with a wine glass in hand. Typically with no relatives coming for dinner I don't care if all we eat is the homemade Chex mix my good friend and neighbor Beth gives us every year.
But let's get back to that crashing tree because this is where the down slide started. As I laid there draped in Fraser fir my first thought was how dry it must have been to have dropped so many needles. But then when I heard the kids slithering down the hall like snakes circling their prey, I finally knew I needed to raise the white flag on Christmas sublimity.
The perfectionist in me got swallowed up into the belly of the beast that year and now this moment lives on in infamy -- on Facebook, at the Thanksgiving table, in my kids' dreams and my worst nightmares. My family thinks they know how to take me down a notch or two.
That's okay. I don't need perfection anymore. I've got Photoshop. My family thinks they can keep me in my place. But I can crop and paste their heads from one photo to another one from an online clip art service and bask in my moment of holiday self fulfillment.
Season's Greetings from Little Lord Fauntleroy, Shirley Temple, Dash Riprock, Finley the dog, a couple of cats and Holiday Home Girl.
Does that tree look like it's leaning to the left a little?