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When my youngest was very little she would get incredibly ill at Christmas time. It always started a few weeks after Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving we would be around all of those people. There were the holiday shows and concerts that we would attend to support the other children on their endeavors as a singer, or actor, or concert saxophonist. *hot cross buns on a recorder sounds like ass, hot cross buns on a saxophone played by a child with an expander makes your ears and eyes bleed. 

So naturally, I would be all pissy because some inconsiderate asshole has made my child sick. I would try to remember who she was around so that I could take a mental note of it. *this is the worst thing that we do as humans. We all get sick but somehow or another we want to blame someone for our illnesses. Fucking Debra with her snotty kid, why did you even come to support your child any way? Keep in mind I had vomited on my way to my son’s play and still attended. That’s right I was patient zero that year!!!! I wasn’t going to miss his play. He had speaking lines and everything.

So here it was Christmas eve and my daughter was three or four years old and we were visiting my parents for the Holiday. We woke up in the middle of the night to our poor little angel wheezing and she could barely open her eyes. She had a fever and she was so sick. On Christmas eve you have little choice on where to go for healthcare. So we headed off to the emergency room. If you have ever been to the emergency room early in the morning on the Holidays it is a sight to behold. I had to cover my poor baby’s eyes because the guy sitting next to us had a fork sticking out of his face. He had a dish towel wrapped around the fork and he sat there with his mother who was still yelling at him, “I told you not to upset your father! I knew this would happen!” *I don’t want to know what kind of dysfunction you need to have where you can accurately predict fork to the face. But here we are! I find people curious and so I did want to talk with them but at the same time keep my distance because I had my baby.

I get my baby into the doctor and they hook her up to the nebulizer and we get her all checked out. They believe it was pneumonia and we are sent on our way with her prescription that they filled for us at the hospital because there was no pharmacy open. We get back to my parents house and carry on with our holiday.

Next year, at Christmas again, my daughter wakes up and is wheezing can barely open her eyes. She has a slight fever. I take her into the emergency room…but at the children’s hospital this time, there is no family caused casualties here. Apparently forking is left for adult children, I mean seriously what could have been said to fork your own child in the face? I get her in to see the doctor and he thinks it is the flu this time. No meds, just a nebulizer treatment and we were sent home. We have a nebulizer at home and I have to keep treatments going at home. We get through Christmas and she gets better.

The following year she is sick again and this time it is the week before Christmas and I get her in to her regular doctor. She looks at me and asks “This happens every year?”

I say “Yes! It usually starts a little after Thanksgiving!”

“Do you have a real Christmas tree?”

Now I am thinking this is just small talk “Yes. We picked it out as a family and made a day of it.”

“Have you ever used an artificial tree?”

“Only when we are traveling for the Holidays. I don’t want the tree to dry out while we are gone.”

“Does she get sick the years you use an artificial tree?”

I think. “Yes. But only when we get up to my parents….Is it the tree?” I ask because now that someone is pointing it out to me it seems so perfectly obvious. My parents get a real tree every year. Some people think it is blasphemous to get an artificial tree, my parents are of this sort.

“I think it could be. Go home and get rid of your tree and see if she gets better right away.” the doctor says.

I am thrilled to hear this. I call my husband and he says “So we have to throw away our Christmas tree that we just bought?”

“Yes. But we can put up the artificial tree in its place!” I say. I am a problem solver that’s why.

“Becki, I threw out that tree years ago.”

“Why did you do that?” I ask

“Because the lights were burnt out on half of the tree don’t you remember?”

“Oh that’s right. Well we have to get rid of this tree. Maybe we can buy an artificial tree.”

“I will take down the tree when I get home. We can go out and try to find a reasonably priced artificial tree.”

It’s not that my husband doesn’t care about our daughter’s health, I am not saying that it’s just that we don’t know how to Christmas without the tree. We don’t know how to Christmas without spending every last penny on gifts…mostly because we were living on one income. *oh you’re a stay at home mom? How can you even afford that? We can’t!!! But I wouldn’t have changed it for all of the world. Coupons and sales are the way to do this by the way, If you want to know that information. My husband makes a good salary now and we made it through! 

My children and I undecorated the tree while my youngest was sleeping. My husband got home and took the tree outside. We talk to the children about why we needed to do this and say “But we have a babysitter coming over and we are going to go buy an artificial tree.” We didn’t tell them that this tree was going to be a budget tree that may be a little sad.

As we were out shopping for our artificial Christmas tree we found out that even the fucking pink ones are over our budget. “Excuse me could you point out which Christmas trees cost under twenty bucks, please?”

Finally we found a display model at Kmart with a sign that said “store model only”

My husband rolls up his sleeves and asks to see a manager. I walk away because haggling is not my favorite thing in the world. I get too uncomfortable with the back and forth and the silence. The silence kills me. Are you kidding me….I will give you one million dollars to fill the void of this never-ending silence. Which is strange because I am a stay at home mom and you would think that I would pay a million to get some silence. I once paid sticker price for a car and then they added a security system as an extra add on that I paid for…just to let you know how I haggle.

My husband talked that guy down and we get the tree, with no box, out to the car and load it up. We paid a decent price and we got a fairly decent tree. We get it home and get to decorate our new tree. We also couldn’t afford new ornaments and to this day we laugh about the things we would hang on our tree.

Our first ornaments I ever had in our home I made out of red fabric and stuffing (fiber fill not, stove top) and white ribbon. They were my husband’s and my son’s favorite ones because they could throw them on. They simply were cloth balls that you threw in the tree they didn’t hang, they sat on the branches. Then I had these Disney ornaments that were the shapes of the characters, but the children played with them and they were in rough shape. We had one arm Donald Duck. We had the head of Simba. We had just a sword that belonged to somebody but it still had the arm attached to it. Our Christmas ornaments were all dismembered and a little creepy, I’m sure to other people. “They hang body parts on their tree! It’s so fucking weird.”

We also hung the ornaments that the kids made. My youngest daughter just told me last night that she hates it when we hang “that start ornament that I made” on the tree. This star is huge and it has a picture of her….but she made it at school so it’s the school picture and it is not a fine piece of photography. She had her hair braided all nice for school but then they handed her a comb and so she used it. It looks like she is wearing a stuffed animal on her head. I love that ornament because it reminds me of how independent she always was. She hates it because “Why did they even hand me a comb if I wasn’t supposed to use it?”

We have nice ornaments for our trees now but I can’t put them on because our cat, my little naughty nunu climbs the tree. Yes I have tried squirting him with a bottle…and shaking a can of pennies, all that does is makes him go further into the tree to hide. We still have to use artificial trees because my youngest is allergic. She may not be any more she may have grown out of it…but I am never going to take that chance. She would get so sick I never want to go through that again.

Moral of my story: Do we even really NEED Christmas trees? I mean, the answer is yes, but why? If your child seems to get wheezy at Christmas time maybe try an artificial Christmas tree instead. Also the dust on the ornaments could be the culprit. If you have any old ornaments you laugh about every year I would love to hear about it. At my parent’s home my brother made an apple and cloves ornament one year….we hung that thing on our tree every year. It looked like an apple the first year and every year after that it looked like a lump of dog shit! We would laugh about it when we got older. I hope my mom still hangs the turd on the tree because it is tradition. WE still hang the arm with the sword on our tree for that same reason. I mean is it even Christmas if we don’t hang dismembered Disney characters on our tree? I doubt it!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Until next time 🙂

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