May 25, 2018
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When decorating the Christmas tree becomes a problem

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

I decorated the Christmas tree this week.

Then I dedecorated it — or undecorated it — whichever is the correct word for such a thing.

I’m hopeful that as you read this column this morning that it may be decorated — again — before we undecorate it — again — on New Year’s Day.

Sometimes life circumstances have a way of creeping in and interfering with the traditions that surround our holidays.

This year that happened to us.

The Christmas tree got put up, the lights got put on it and the decorations got carried up from the basement.

And there the boxes sat.

The tree looked lovely from the outside.

It didn’t look half bad from the inside at night. If you didn’t look too closely, you could barely tell there were no decorations on it.

Our intentions were good. Our plan was the same as it has been since the children were small. Put on Christmas music, light a fire, make homemade cocoa and decorate the darn tree, all together, of course.

But there were rehearsals for the high school musical and then performances of the high school musical. There were swim practices and swim meets and part-time jobs that can be more demanding during the Christmas season.

There were seven kittens in the house.

There were Christmas parties and shopping to do and hovering above it all an unexpected family health issue that had us all re-examining our priorities.

So the tree stood tall and straight in its well-lit nakedness.

I tried to adjust. Tried to “let it go,” but when the last weekend before Christmas passed and the tree remained bare, I decided that the decorating needed to commence with or without music and a fire and cocoa.

So it was that on Tuesday morning, I hauled out the decorations and put them on the tree.

It was done, and I was OK with it. I naively thought my teenage daughter would be, as well.

Come to find out she was not.

“You decorated the tree!” she shouted at me when she came home from school.

“It needed to get done,” I said.

“But we always do it together with hot chocolate, and it’s my very favorite part of Christmas,” she replied.

I won’t rehash here all that happened next, as it would most likely embarrass us both, but suffice it to say that is when the de-decorating began — hastily, I might add — and not with good humor.

So today, Christmas Eve, the tree sits naked with the boxes of decorations beside it.

Today there are meatballs to be made, dips to be mixed, sugar cookies to decorate (because that’s also my daughter’s favorite part of Christmas) and gifts to be wrapped and delivered.

And there are lists to be checked.


And I hope — my fingers are crossed — there will be Christmas music and a fire and some homemade cocoa and lots of good will and good humor as we pull out the boxes and finally decorate the tree.

Traditions are important, but my daughter learned this week, as we all do as we grow up, that they also need to be flexible.

Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for continuing to read this column and for the kind words — well, sometimes kind words, sometimes not — that you share with me.

E-mail Renee at and listen to her and co-host Dan Frazell from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on the radio at 103.1 The Pulse and 620 AM.

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