All you’ve gotta do is… be festive

Christmas.  It is upon us.  All of the gift-seeking, pre-holiday ruckus is in full swing.

I’m not usually much for all of the hubbub that comes along with Christmas.  I feel like it takes away from the peace involved in simply enjoying the holiday and what it is about.  

But, you know what?  This year, I’m kind of digging it.  We have a nice place to celebrate in — complete with actual fireplace from which to hang our stockings.  We are all healthy and happy.  The hubbster has recovered well from his heart attacks, I am finally sleeping, my fibro is under control, and we have a house full of pets who are no longer out on the streets.  I’m feeling supremely grateful.

Except there’s this one little thing.

It’s that “All You’ve Gotta Do Is” thing.  Ah, yes.  The family Breen’s curse strikes again.  

The other day, I decided to get the tree out, assemble it, and put the lights upon it.  My goal was to have all of this done early, so that the actual task of decorating the tree could be stress-free and fun for the family.  You know, make some cookies, drink some cocoa, put on some music, and discuss all of our ugly ornaments that were handcrafted by the children in years past.

All you’ve gotta do is get the tree out, assemble it, and put the lights upon it.  Oh, those words.  They get me every. Single. Time!

The poor tree, in three chunks and covered in dusty plastic bags, sat in the corner of the garage, where it had been unceremoniously tossed after the Wee Little Miss and I dug all of the Christmas decor out of the attic.  See, this should mean that it will be easier to accomplish my goal.  But, alas, no.

I went out to get the pieces to assemble, and (being barefoot as I usually am) I stepped on a wayward twig that stabbed the arch of my foot.  Nice!  I’m leaving bloody footprints all across the floor.  This is awesome.  I grab one piece, hobble inside, and clean up my bloody stump of a foot.  (Ok, that may be a wee bit dramatic, but I am writing a blog here.  Work with me.) 

I set the piece down in the living room and went back out to get the next piece.  I grab it, come back in, and discover that the cat has decided the first piece is a great place to nest.  I have to get her out of there so I can put the next piece up.  So I’m carefully trying to remove the plastic bag from it without getting shredded by our sweet, little, innocent kitty.  I didn’t get too shredded, but the bag did, and little bits of it adorned that entire chunk of tree.  Sigh.  

Once I’d gotten all of the cat’s plastic bag bits off of the tree, I realized I didn’t have the hardware for the base.  I had to go buy new screws, because for some mysterious reason, our household only has wood screws in our extensive tool cabinet.

Boots on, went to the store.  Realized I don’t know what size screw is required.  Drove back home.  Measured.  Went back to the store and bought the screws.

Upon arriving home, I went back into the house to discover that little Avery thinks the tree is a great chew toy.  Thankfully, she had only just begun, but COME ON.  Shoo-ed the pup away from the tree chunks.  

I finally managed to put the tree base together, complete with two tree chunks!  And it only took, what, two-ish hours. 

(You know, for having a fake tree, we sure do have a lot of pine needles on the floor.  I thought these things were supposed to be more convenient and cleaner… thank goodness I bought myself a Roomba last year!)

This is the best part of my whole story.  Are you ready, reader?  I actually got to go out to the garage, get the little piece that goes on the top of the tree, remove it from the plastic bag, take it back into the house, and put it on the tree without incident.  I even was able to pull all of the branches out and make it look semi-tree-like.  WHAT?!  I did.  You might not believe it, but I promise, it really happened.  I was just about beside myself with glee.  The glee was short-lived, however; I should have realized that such a string of good luck in any project doesn’t bode well for the rest of said project.  All you’ve gotta do is…

Now that I had the tree assembled, all that was left to do was put the lights on.  

Ah.  The lights.  Me and Christmas lights have a relationship that is tenuous at best.  They get tangled up despite my best efforts to store them in the most meticulously organized way.  The bulbs are always burned out.  There is always something.  As a matter of fact, in years past, I’d pretty much reached a point where I don’t even bother messing with the burned out lights.  If there’s an enormous chunk of lights that is’nt lit up, I just don’t care any more, so long as some of them work.  Just don’t look at the dark part of the tree.  That’s how I approach it any more.  Except, I couldn’t do that this year.  I just couldn’t.  Cant we have a tree that is all lit up, properly?  Please?  Pretty please?

I plugged the lights in.  Predictably, about half of them are dark.  I mean, yeah, I knew that was going to happen.  That’s to be expected when you’ve had the same sets of lights for over a decade and never did any maintenance.  It’s totally what I deserve for being a bum all these years. 

But all you’ve gotta do is fix it, right?  

I began my task with the fervor of a person who hasn’t looked forward to Christmas in many years.  I unplugged and re-plugged in every single bulb.  All of them.  On multiple strings of lights.  I had pocketfuls of burned out bulbs that I replaced.  So many bulbs!  But the pitiful stretches of unlit bulbs remained.  In fact, I think they were getting a little bit bigger.  I was going backwards!  Noooooooooooooo!

I was becoming frustrated.  I had started this project at around 8:00 in the morning, with high hopes.  By now, though, The Hubbster had arrived home following his full day at work and his half hour commute.  Yeah, it was 6:00 in the evening by now.

After watching me and The Wee Little Miss struggle for a while, The Hubbster mentions that he knows of a tool one can purchase at Wally World that can detect where the issues are in your string of Christmas lights and fix it.  For real?  This is a thing?  I’ve spent close to ten hours on this tree project, most of that time working to repair the lights that I am too stubborn to replace, and there is a TOOL out there that will solve my problems?!  YES, please, of course I would like for you to go and buy this mysterious miracle working thing for me!  YES, YES, a thousand times YES!

After he got home with the tool, it still took us roughly an hour to get it all worked out.  But we did.  We did it.  We now have an assembled tree, without plastic bags or cats or dogs inside of it, with lights that all light up.  And it only took all day and a good bit of the evening.  

So much for cookies, cocoa, music, and decorating.  At least the tree is lit up.  It’s certainly not as “lit” as I wanted to be after all of that, but it is lit nonetheless.  

Here we are, over a week later.  We still have not decorated the tree.  It sits there, staring at us each night as we indulge in marathons of The Secret Healer on Netflix.  

Tonight we have to go play a gig, but we plan to decorate it when we get home. 

All you’ve gotta do is decorate the tree after a gig.

Oh.  Well, we shall see.

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All You’ve Gotta Do Is

If you know me at all, you know that nothing is ever easy for me.  Somehow, Murphy’s law works in exponential quantities on my behalf.  Historically, my family’s motto has been, “All you’ve gotta do is…”.  My dad used to say it often, at which point I knew my weekend was shot, because our “simple project” would turn into a months-long DIY from Satan himself. 

True story, one time my dad decided to build a shed.  It was the SINGLE MOST DIFFICLUT THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE.  That includes childbirth, moving our family on our own (no moving company) multiple times cross-country, boot camp (I was in the Navy for a while), college, and any and all farming activity in which I have ever participated.  Honest.  Ask him.  I have a feeling he’ll chime in down in the comments, if for no other reason than to tell me it was a good life lesson; an adventure; I got to practice math; blah, blah, blah.  (Love you, Dad.)

I’m pretty sure “All You’ve Gotta Do Is” is  on our family crest.  

“Actual”, “real” “historical” document

Ok, maybe that’s a stretch.  But really, it’s not easy being me, or even a family member of mine.