“It smells like plastic,” I said.
“Well, it is plastic,” Ray replied matter of factly, as he draped red and green lights over the fake tree.
I didn’t mention that my throat was starting to itch.
RED AND GREEN. Not a tasteful white, or some cool “in” color. But I had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t complain, even when he came home with a $2 tree topper — and other items — from Walgreen’s. He did red and green on the bottom and started to do white on the top. I couldn’t help it.
“You know, it won’t look so much like it came in two pieces if you do all red and green.”
He stopped to consider that, then took the white down. I also weighed in on the royalblue garland, which I pointed out was a little patriotic when mixed with the bright red one.
If I’d known we were going to have a full-sized (well, almost) tree, I would have ordered one of the cute tree skirts I’ve been seeing on etsy.com. But there isn’t time. So I rummaged in Sophie’s room and found a plain red fleece blanket.
“That’s perfect!” Ray announced, wrapping it and standing up to survey his handiwork, with all the pride of Charlie Brown in the video we’d just finished watching.
I decided to deep-six my bah hum bugs, and got out the boxes of ornaments. Soon the girls’ annual holiday crafts were hanging next to my collection of paper mache birds and felt snowmen, and I had to admit there was a certain beauty to the combined family effort, even if I was now beginning to itch all over.
Life is a work in progress. (A rough draft of history, we call it in journalism — usually when we’re trying to sooth a colleague who’s made a dumb mistake.) OK, so no live tree this year, and even the silver tinsel one is back in the closet. But the girls were thrilled with the one we got, and Ray settled down happily to channel surf.
When I’m not worrying about poisoning my kids with a tree no doubt made in China (I’m not going to look!) I can contemplate how I’ve poisoned their minds. I had lunch today with two good friends, both of whom have young kids. I was telling a story that somehow involved the girls’ letters to Santa when my friend Mayan interrupted.
“You don’t tell them Santa Claus is real, do you?”
“Um, yeah,” I said, expecting a reminder that I’m Jewish (like both of these women). But this had nothing to do with Judaism.
“Really? You do?” she asked, pausing to level her gaze. “You know, I just can’t lie to my kids.”
My friend Kacey looked down at her turkey sandwich, obviously a little embarrassed. She’s not as blunt. I turned to her.
“So what about the tooth fairy?”
“Oh. Well, I told Kate that the tooth fairy lives in her imagination.”
That one got kudos from Mayan. (If they’d been guys there would have been high-fiving.) And I had to agree it was a great line. Too late, though. I’ve already sprinkled the mushrooms in the fairy ring with glitter, written the notes from Tabitha Fairchild, and game planned with my in-laws over Santa.
And you know, I might change my mind tomorrow, but for tonight I’m feeling like that’s one rough draft I’m happy to keep as is. What’s a fib here and there when the trade off is magic?
Maybe I’ve inhaled too much plastic tree.