Allergic Christmas-itis

I’m allergic to Christmas trees.

I may have inherited my father’s nasal repulsion to the pine pinnacle of the holiday season.  There is, in fact, a very high likelihood of that, as I start sneezing as soon as I sit near it.

But that’s not the only form of allergic reaction there is.

The other kind begins round about the time the plastic totes of Christmas decorations pile up in the living room. Upon their appearance, the kids descend in a maelstrom of grabby fingers and fists like the clutching, covetous old sinner himself.  But it’s me that’s more like Scrooge in my demeanor.  I can’t handle the tissue paper strewn, the fragile ornaments bounced, the stockings splayed when they are not to be hung by the chimney at all right now – never mind with care.  They wanted to trim the tree three days ago; their father and I have to attach tiny twinkle lights to the end of each tree branch with a slight gap in tiny twisted wires before even one ornament can be hung.

If we manage to fend them off long enough to get the lights on, once the first ornament is lifted, all bets are off.  Look at this one, Mommy. When did I get this one? Is this yours? Daddy’s? Can I put this one up? Do you have a hook? Is this one okay here? Ooh, pretty.

Half of these comments are in response to a family heirloom made of blown glass teetering on the brink of extinction.  It’s like they tag-team you: one grabbing the fuzzy, innocent lamb so the other can grab the cut-glass crystal pendant while your back is turned.  Wait, what. No, not that one. Don’t do that. Mommy will do that one. Stop. Don’t touch. Daaaaaaaaadddyyyyyy!

My husband actually got me on video last year mid-rant as I tried to control the chaos.  It didn’t work and it didn’t make for fun family movies.  This year was slightly better.  We put the tree in its stand one day (after smearing the ceiling with pine sap and chopping the perfectly tapered spire from the top so it would fit); did the lights and ornaments the next.  The plan was to light a fire, put on Christmas carols, and take our time.  The kids ended up nagging us for the better part of the day while we attended to family business and I still ended up twitching.

At one point, as I stared down into my four-story ornament organizer, I actually contemplated dropping small squares of paper into each compartment so I would remember where each ornament belonged upon dismantling of the tree. That’s when I figured I was probably taking things too far.

a. I am way too concerned about the level of organization for my out-of-season decorations.
b. That means I probably have too many decorations.
c. That also means proves that I’m a control freak.
d. And anal-retentive, type A . . . .
e. By fitting things, stuff, multiple objects into compact little boxes to contain them, I’m trying to establish some sort of order on a time/situation/season when I apparently feel overwhelmed.
f. My head is so full of stuff nowadays (several years now) that it can’t hold it anymore/together.

Instead of singing along to the soothing sounds of Bing Crosby’s crooning, I want to stab an ice pick in my eye. Instead of reliving the memories of each ornament and the story it tells, I’m making horrible memories for my children as I snap at them. It’s too much all at once. And there’s that expectation of being so flippin’ merry. There’s the pressure to recreate Currier and Ives. Instead of taking it slow and easy, everything needs to be a production with the stage set and the characters in play.

photo by Jennifer Basile

Do you ever feel like this during the holidays!?

So, yes, I’m allergic to my Christmas tree. Yes, I hate trimming the tree. Don’t send the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to my door; I’d probably just yell at them for pawing the ornaments anyway.

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  1. About 8-9 years ago, my husband and I reached the inevitable conclusion that if we didn’t find a solution to the annual Christmas tree debacle, there’d be no cheer left for the season and maybe one less kid as well. So what we decided to do was have 2 trees – one for the inmates and the other for the guards. It’s been the best decision we’ve ever made because with the exception of the lights that daddy does, they have their very own tree to decorate. It’s filled with their own memories as well as mine because all the ornaments they’ve ever made get put up on their tree. We have our annual trip to Pier 1 where they go and pick out something new to adorn their tree and most importantly, they stay the hell away from my tree! The one with the really good ornaments and precious memorabilia! It’s a thought, a prescription for your annual allergies. Consider this a drug trial…


    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  December 12, 2013

      You are too funny! One less kid, annual allergies, drug trial! And brilliant to boot! I may have to start scoping out a place for another tree! Sounds like that’s the perfect solution for your family. And you wouldn’t want to lose any one of those precious kids!


  2. I think you just described us last Saturday. Except for the Christmas tree allergy and the young children. Nothing ever seems to go to plan does it? At least now our cats are way beyond kitten stage and so no longer want to wreck the tree and the ornaments hanging so beautifully. Hopefully too our tree this year will still have needles left on it by Christmas Day…but that’s another story. I’m overwhelmed, hope you soon won’t be…


    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  December 12, 2013

      Ever heard the song, “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”? I can’t help singing that to myself! Trying to make some merry!


      • Not heard that song, no, but I can just imagine!!

        Get that merry underway Jennifer and you’ll get through this! Think I’m going to stock up on extra bubbly, like now, perhaps you would like to join me? 😉


  3. oktdeutsch

     /  December 29, 2013

    This made me laugh! I’m always trying so hard to create the perfect, memorable holiday and always suffering as a result. No advice here…just try to have compassion for yourself! That’s all I can end up doing for myself. I look forward to reading more!



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