December 11, 2006

Merry, And Bright

Ahhh, 'tis the season, folks. This weekend was the official start of the Christmas season in the Cactus-Fish household. Christmas tree? Check! Decorating? Check! Christmas tunes? Check! Of course, I was probably a giant pain in the ass because if there's anything I hate about this season, it's going to get the tree and putting lights on the damn thing. Case in point, this conversation from Saturday:

Me: We should let the branches fall overnight before we decorate it.
Her: Yeah. And then I'll put the lights on the tree.
Me: You did that last year, right? I appreciated that.
Her: It's a hell of a lot better than listening to you bitch about it.

And she's right. I think it's just that I'm way too anal to put lights on a tree without losing my mind. Should the lights go around the trunk of the tree or out on the branches? And if they go on the branches, how do you hide the wires? Should they start from the bottom of the tree or the top? All questions that I feel must be answered prior to embarking on a tree-decorating journey. When they prove unanswerable, I grow frustrated and say things like merry fucking Christmas and the baby Jesus is so not worth this shit or if those three wise fuckers were so damn wise, why don't we get their asses to figure out a better way of doing this. And so on. You get the picture.

Beth came to my rescue. The tree is up, decked out with multi-colored lights and decorated and a rather large package is already under the tree - the ginormous kitchen we bought for Mia. Self-assembly required yet still probably better than lighting a tree, but I'll get back to you on that one. Then I tried to take a portrait of Mia in front of said tree for our Christmas card. That was a challenge. It's unclear how many actually turned out but I have the feeling that, out of the 4921 pictures I shot, there might have been two good ones.

The portions of the weekend not dedicated to all things merry and bright were good as well. Although not overly eventful. There was, as is standard, a little bit of reading, a small dollop of relaxation and a great deal of playing.

Unfortunately, all of that had to stop with the arrival of another dreaded Monday. I'm off to sit in meetings all day. I hope you guys have something more constructive to do.

Posted by Chris at December 11, 2006 07:30 AM | TrackBack

The picture of Mia in front of the tree is a winner.

Posted by: William at December 11, 2006 07:46 AM

I agree with William. Also, good morning.

Posted by: Kelly M. at December 11, 2006 07:56 AM

I think that's a great picture of Mia by the tree. It must be one of the 2 good ones, huh?

Posted by: Alissa at December 11, 2006 08:00 AM

I broke down after the holiday last year and picked up an artificial that was pre-lit. I get the smell of a real tree (which was the biggest reason I had in getting a real one) by picking up a wreath for over the fireplace, and I don't have to deal with the hell of trying to put lights on a tree.

Posted by: amber at December 11, 2006 08:04 AM

While Mia in front of the tree is super cute - I LOVE the one in the top right corner, her running at you, pigtails bouncing.

Too adorable.

Posted by: Emily at December 11, 2006 08:10 AM

I agree that the photo of Mia in the post is a great one.

I cannot empathise at all with you on the lights thing. I've been doing the family tree since I was 11 years old and have it down to a science. (In fact this year my wife tried to "improve" by removing the lights and redoing it herself. She later apologized and asked me to relight the tree.)

Oh, and two suggestions from a dad who just did a family xmas this weekend:
1. Open all boxed toys and remove the seventeen million tie-wraps that strap the stupid stuffed doll into the box BEFORE you wrap them. Otherwise you'll have multiple toddler meltdowns as you try to navigate the array of packaging.
2. Anything that comes in a big box with pictures on it and lots of parts inside it should be assembled beforehand and wrapped accordingly. Otherwise, a meltdown (potentially yours, given your above comments about tree lights; or Mia's) is sure to follow. Also, consider this: do you really want to be assembling something xmas morning, or would you rather sit on the sofa with a coffee and an arm around your wife while Mia makes you two breakfast?

Posted by: Jeff at December 11, 2006 08:13 AM

Jeff, BRILLIANT ideas for wrapping--I will begin using those this year!!

Yep, I too got my first fake pre-lit tree this year--since all Husband does is bitch about putting on the lights. Why ruin the mood with him bickering about that stuff? (and please know that in the first year we were married, he determined that he knew the secret to putting on the lights, so thus that became his sole Yule task...maybe that was his strategy.)

Any who, Mia looks A-DORABLE in front of that tree! Although I'm pretty sure she'd make the "Charlie Brown christmas tree" look equally as lovely!

Posted by: kristen at December 11, 2006 08:17 AM

forgot...last week when I was in NYC, I heard a news story about a person who purchased a real tree that had been sprayed with "snow"...and a bat was hanging in there among the branches.

(And now you can hear my prayers of gratitude to our Lord..."Thank you for inspiring me to get a fake tree this year!!")

Posted by: kristen at December 11, 2006 08:20 AM

I agree with everyone- that picture of Mia in front of the tree is great! She look so innocent and angelic.

Also, ditto what Jeff says about putting together anything that needs to be put together before wrapping it. It makes for a much more enjoyable christmas morning! Everything has so many parts it will drive you insane. Also, given the attention span of the average toddler, by the time you get one thing put together or free of all the wire tie wraps, she will no longer be interested in that item...

I also do the lights in our family. Mike says his duty ends after the tree is in the stand. He has NO patience for lights and decorating.

Posted by: Lisa at December 11, 2006 08:41 AM

My Monday is not any more exciting, I promise. I'm proofreading. You're jealous, right?

I tried to get my husband to call in sick with me today, but he refused. Something about having work to do, and feeling guilty that he's not really sick. I don't understand it at all.

Posted by: Jessie at December 11, 2006 08:54 AM

We've had an artifical tree since after the daughter was born due to her allergies. However a few years ago we bought a pre-lit tree after I had an absolutely crying breakdown because NO ONE would help me put the lights on the tree and I HATE putting lights on the tree.

It was so worth the cost of that damn tree (which at the time they were just coming out so it was extravagant).

Unfortunately the daughter is grown and her heathen cat lives with us and he doesn't allow us to have a tree put up as he thinks it is one giant toy just for him. (We have a very small table display now that passes for our tree). I do miss the tree tho...

Posted by: daisy at December 11, 2006 08:56 AM

i love the pic of mia and the tree. She really is the world's cutest baby...

Posted by: suze at December 11, 2006 09:02 AM

I've almost always had a fake tree and this year we bought the pre-lit one as well. It's a keeper.

I already have one picture on the blog of a cat sleeping underneath it in all its garish splendor (the tree, not the cat).

In our house, the girls do the decorating. Need I say more?

Beautiful picture of Mia right before she grabbed for that red ornament. Have fun and be prepared for her to ignore the presents and play with the boxes and ribbon.

Posted by: ann adams at December 11, 2006 09:12 AM

I get ridiculously anal about the tree lights, and obsess about hiding the wires. It's not pretty.

Speaking of pretty, I think the photo of Mia in her red dress is adorable!

Posted by: bad penguin at December 11, 2006 09:22 AM

I can't do the lights either. It's hard enough for me to see a 'blank' spot on the tree where the ornaments aren't perfectly arranged. Ah, but such is the beauty of letting the children decorate. :)
I love Mia's curls in the back...I think you should frame the 'good' shot with all the 'bad' shots. That would look cool.
Yeah, with four kids, we were lucky to get one picture that looked good. Then we pushed our luck and tried to include the dog and cat. Big mistake. Big.

Posted by: angela marie at December 11, 2006 09:23 AM

That is a gorgeous picture of Mia. Well worth the other 4920 pictures, I say.

I'm getting our first "dead" tree this morning, and now I'm all intimidated about the thought of putting lights on it. I've never actually put them on anything taller than our usual 2.5 foot potted tree, so I hadn't thought about that as an issue. Hmmm.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at December 11, 2006 09:45 AM

oh my god. that is absolutely the most beautiful baby ever. and you know i'm not saying that to suck up and win a prize! she makes my uterus hurt. i've said this many a time. sigh.

i'm gonna take my envious butt back to work now. good day, sir.

Posted by: pea at December 11, 2006 09:47 AM

I did the lights at our house. It's easy for me and I did it while playing video games. :)

Posted by: autumn at December 11, 2006 09:58 AM

Well...if that picture of Mia in the red dress ISN'T worthy of a card, then I don't know what is.

Posted by: wordgirl at December 11, 2006 10:01 AM

Itís Monday and yes
You say it every damn time
But we still come read

Every damn Monday
Throughout the next 7
Weeks equals gross Math

Posted by: Kristy at December 11, 2006 10:49 AM

Ah, so it's that time again? :) I don't blame you with the lights -- not that I've ever had to put them on by myself, but I've helped other people do it. Not quite the same though, right?

Posted by: Zandria at December 11, 2006 10:50 AM

Well, I thought I was going to be all clever by telling you about the amazing invention of the pre-lit tree, but alas, many have already beat me to it. I always insisted that my parents get the real tree when I was growing up but now that I am responsible for it I say artificial pre-lit trees are a God-send. Maybe it would help you be a little more festive, eh?
I vote for that photo of Mia in front of the tree for the family Christmas card.

Posted by: Sijbrich at December 11, 2006 10:52 AM


Love the Mia pic
her shoes look gigantic so
close to the big lens

Posted by: PoeticaL at December 11, 2006 10:54 AM

I already did my productive thing for the day - went to a press conference and talked to Hillary Clinton. Can I slack off for the rest of the day now?
p.s. - the picture of Mia in front of the tree is gorgeous!

Posted by: Traci at December 11, 2006 11:04 AM

How's this for a holiday portrait?

I think it turned out well. (Except that having yellow walls gives everything a yellow hue! And no, they're not /THAT/ yellow... it's very mild but the lighting saturates it in pictures.)

Posted by: Adam at December 11, 2006 11:15 AM

Perhaps it's just the perspective, but will she grow into those feet? :) Don't worry, she's still adorable.

And the only thing that finally got me in the Christmas mood was the "We Three Kings" CD by the Reverend Horton Heat. Texas rockabilly covering Silver Bells - a new classic in my book.

Posted by: Heather at December 11, 2006 11:46 AM

As someone who appreciates a good xmas card picture, and someone who doesn't usually comment on people's photos, I gotta say that one of your daughter in front of the tree is awesome.

This year, we gave up trying to invest the time in getting a good xmas photo for the card and just went with a really nice picture from the fall. Not very xmasy, I know, but eff it, people should be happy to get any photo card from us ;)

Posted by: Kaz at December 11, 2006 12:57 PM

hobbitt, after reading a newspaper article detailing department store tree-lighting techniques, is the captain of the guard on that job. It's easy with a fake tree, but it's doable with a real one. The lights are started at the branch node and wrapped all the way around each branch out to the tip and back. The first year he did that, we had about seventeen sets of lights on the tree and the neighborhood dimmed when we plugged it in. Seriously, it was beautiful, lit up all the way from the inside. Breathtaking. And it weighed about 200 lbs.

Now I would like to have a taller tree, since all the ceilings in this place are vaulted, and the peak is in the living room (about 22 feet). The 7.5 foot tree looks a little ridiculous. The 9.5 foot trees are a little over budget at present, but we certainly have enough lights to make it work.

Posted by: bhd at December 11, 2006 01:30 PM

I am so with you on this. I hate decorating the darn tree. I want perfection and that is, unfortunately, unreachable for me. We went with a red theme this year for our tree. My wife looks at it and says it is beautiful, I look at it and think it looks kinda like someone was slaughtered nearby!

Posted by: Jeff A at December 11, 2006 01:31 PM

I was at a golf tournament 2 years ago and won a golf club travel bag. We live on the second story of my in laws and carryin the stupid box was a pain...until I figured out the golf club travel bag with it's little wheels came to my rescue.

I know you will ask... yes I had to use the bag 3 weeks ago so had to unload and re-load the tree and also found fake pine all over my golf bag.

I hope you swallow your tongue while you laugh.

Posted by: DavidR at December 11, 2006 02:22 PM

That picture of Mia looking off to the side is GORGEOUS! Such a cutie.

Posted by: Polichick at December 11, 2006 02:33 PM

Oh that picture of Mia in front of the tree is great. People will love it. No one expects a toddler to sit still. Anyone with a toddler or anyone who has ever ahd a toddler knows they don't sit still, especially for pictures.

A guy I work with told me that he put 14 strands of lights on his tree. Now that's anal.

Posted by: Melissa at December 11, 2006 03:25 PM

thank the good lord i don't have to decorate a tree. i would have serious trouble.

Posted by: ali at December 11, 2006 03:51 PM

The hubby and I had the same "do we need to let the branches fall?" discussion until we realized that the tree had already been standing outside for a couple of days, and the branches had fallen all they were going to fall.

I am 100% in charge of the lights (exactly how it was with my mother), and most of the time he doesn't help me with the tree at all. However, he's in charge of any outdoor decorations, so it's a pretty good tradeoff.

Posted by: jaime at December 11, 2006 03:55 PM

My husband gets totally stressed out about putting the lights on the Christmas tree too. It could be because I want to put like 20 strands on just one tree. But I NEED all those lights. It's just not the same if one measly little tree can't light up your entire 3-level house.

Posted by: angela at December 11, 2006 05:39 PM

She's just beautiful! Is her hair developing a red tint? She's looking a little strawberry blonde there...

Posted by: Stacy at December 11, 2006 06:26 PM

Mia is absolutely lovely in that little red dress sitting in front of the tree. Gorgeous hair!

Re holiday pics for the cards, I just posted a selection from our shoot this year as well. Of course, I'm embarrassing my boy again -- dressed him up in a snowman suit. ;-)

Posted by: ewe_are_here at December 11, 2006 07:01 PM

I have something more constructive to do, yes! I'm packing! FOR DISNEY WORLD! Yee haw!!! We're going to Orlando for the week. :)

By the way, the monkey has that red dress. It's so precious!!! She's too cute! :)

Posted by: Haley-O at December 11, 2006 07:28 PM

Did both the tree and the Christmas picture this weekend too. Both activities likely to be topics the kids will take up with their therapists some day. Ack.

Posted by: nrp at December 11, 2006 07:48 PM

great photos of mia, esp the profile pic in the red dress...killer cute

Posted by: Dolly at December 11, 2006 08:16 PM

I love that pic of Mia in front of the tree too!

Sounds like things are much more of track at your house then mine for the holidays... lol.

Posted by: Debra at December 11, 2006 08:18 PM

Look at how pretty Mia is in her Christmas dress!!

I'm jealous about the tree. We had to get a fake one this year which bummed me out. Then again, I too hate putting the lights on and the tree we got is pre-lit which totally took care of that problem!

Posted by: Colleen at December 11, 2006 08:59 PM

I swear to God, you guys have the most beautiful child on the planet. What a picture!

Yeah, Christmas lights are always my job in our house, because I'm the anal one. When D does it, it looks like he shot them out of an air cannon all wadded up and they landed every which way, and then I worry and fret myself sick looking at them until I have to pull them off the tree and redo them. Wouldn't it be great if we could do it like they did in the Jim Carrey Grinch movie? I know there's a way to convert an Airsoft gun for that somehow...

Posted by: Sassy at December 11, 2006 09:11 PM

Good god, that child is beautiful.

Posted by: Marilyn at December 11, 2006 10:05 PM

The beautiful 7.5' pre-lit tree I got 3 yrs ago was one of the best purchases ever. It has white lights, and some of them "twinkle". I couldn't love it more. It's in 3 sections (heavy sections, I might add) that just plug together. It's absolutely beautiful. Well worth the money.

The pic of Mia in front of the tree looks positively angelic. She's a doll.

And ditto what Jeff said about pre-assembling the toddler toys! You will thank him if you follow his direction.

Posted by: coolchick at December 11, 2006 10:23 PM

Oops... forgot to say that if you HAVE to have the Christmas tree smell, Village Candles has a candle called (duh) Christmas Tree that smells just like a real tree. I burn them year round just because I love the smell, and I have the car scent thingy in my car because I like the smell of a Christmas Tree in my car too! Yeah, I know that's weird, but I can deal with that.

Posted by: coolchick at December 11, 2006 10:26 PM

I finally relented to my wife's demands and purchased a "pre-lit" fake tree to avoid the hassles of the lights. Not the best solution, and I would prefer a live tree, but I figure it is a small sacrifice to make to avoid the fights that used to ensure that frustration.

Oh and frustration? Monday morning, 3 hours on a train to go to a "Marathon" meeting that only wound up lasting perhaps a bit more that an hour only to wind up back on the train for another 3 hours. Productivity was unable to locate me today.

Posted by: Latte Man at December 11, 2006 11:10 PM

That's a great picture collage, you seem like a very proud papa. And that sounded like a heck of a weekend!

Posted by: Dee at December 11, 2006 11:47 PM

I'll sing with the choir and say that the picture of Mia in front of the tree is absolutely precious! Love the pigtails running toward you as well!

Posted by: Beth in StL at December 12, 2006 01:07 AM

This year the debate and bitching was about what type of tree to get. We decided against the fake tree which was probably made in some factory using many toxic chemicals. Somehow we felt better about a real tree. But seriously, why do I even cometemplate such things.

Posted by: nila at December 12, 2006 06:06 AM

Glad you had a good weekend....Mia is so beautiful, she is growing so fast! :)

Posted by: Dana at December 12, 2006 07:46 PM

I'm always in charge of the lights. I was at my parents house too. I manage to untangle and restring without resorting to profanity or flinging of said lights.

Posted by: Annie at December 12, 2006 11:27 PM

You daughter is absolutely gorgeous.

Posted by: anica at December 14, 2006 11:09 PM
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