10 Steps to Ensure Your Kids Will Need Post-Holiday Therapy


1. Reserve a weekend in December for the annual choosing and cutting down of the Christmas tree. Make sure to choose a tree farm almost an hour’s drive north. On the day you make the trip, bring a friend of your oldest son’s along. Because 6 people weighing in on a tree could lead to a dreaded tie. You’ll need the extra set of eyeballs…just in case.

2. Arrive at dusk on a rainy, overcast Saturday, just as they are closing. Look at your husband in disbelief when he tells you we’ve been turned away “for legal reasons”. Some nonsense about navigating the farm in the dark and the possibility of falling in holes. Leave without a tree. Take the 5 children to Dairy Queen and give them each a Blizzard for dinner. Hock a loogie into your husband’s Blizzard when he isn’t looking. After all, if he hadn’t tried to reclaim his youth by organizing that tackle football game in your backyard with the 5th grade boys, you’d have been there before closing. And left with a tree.

3. Wake up early Sunday morning. Pack coats, hats, gloves, donuts, water, baby wipes, and children into the minivan. Arrive at the tree farm an hour north for the 2nd time in 14 hours. Watch in horror as the children leap from the car directly into the mud because you’ve forgotten to pack their rain boots.

4. Walk to the farthest left corner of the tree farm with your husband, who amuses himself by pinching your butt cheek every 4-5 trees. Refrain from tackling your two older sons when, with ninja-like stealth, they jump out from behind a tree and scare the be-Jesus out of you. Keep your face expressionless when your younger two sons hand you a dozen colored tags that they’ve pulled from trees other people have marked and paid for already. Nonchalantly toss the tags into the nearest hole. Kick mud into the hole to bury the evidence. Point to the nearest tree and tell your husband, “cut it down fast before they kick us the fuck out of here!”

For the love of god, let's get out of here!

For the love of god, let’s get out of here!

5. Take a family picture with the tree before it’s bailed and strapped to the minivan roof. Promise the kids that you will decorate the tree tonight. When you arrive home, ask your husband to put the tree in a bucket in the backyard. Forget to check to see if he has put water in the bucket. Be too tired to decorate the tree that night.

6. Put the tree up five days later. Play Christmas music. Make hot chocolate with marshmallows for the kids and homemade Bailey’s for you and your husband. Turn on the gas fireplace. Unwrap each ornament slowly, pause, smile, then begin the story of where each ornament came from…because every ornament has a story, and you remember each and every story. When no one, including your husband, listens to your stories…when they repeatedly interrupt you, when they rip ornaments from your hand with their dirty, ungrateful little fingers, when they fight over whose turn it is to place the star on top of the tree…tell them they are taking all of the magic out of Christmas.

7. When your husband announces he will not be watering the tree this year because it’s “a waste of time”, look at him quizzically. Narrow your eyes. In your mind’s eye, recollect the year he created a device for watering trees he felt should be patented. The funnel he duct taped to the PVC tube that allowed him to stand at his full height of 6’2″ plus an additional three feet away to water the tree without brushing against so much as one pine needle. Walk upstairs to the hall closet. Open it. Peek inside. Yep. It’s still there. Nope. Still no patent. Close the closet door. Scratch your head. But, for god’s sake, hold your tongue.

8. Spend the next three weeks giving the tree a wide berth. Admire it from afar, as though you’re a stalker. Or a peeping tom. Instruct the kids to do the same. On Christmas Eve, after the kids have gone to bed, take every piece of furniture from that room and move it as far away from that fire hazard the tree as possible. Scowl at your husband when he raises his eyebrows and suggests you do the nasty on the carpet of razor sharp pine needles that now covers your family room rug. Leave a note for Santa to place the gifts 3-4 feet away from the tree. And, above all else, instruct him not to light his pipe until he’s several houses away from that goddamn tinder box.

9. Spend Christmas morning watching the joy on your kids’ faces as they unwrap each of their presents. Watch those looks of joy morph into masks of pain as they slip their unsuspecting fingers into new ski gloves riddled with needles sharp as splinters. Spend Christmas night snuggled up on the sofa with your husband. Listen to the cats chasing each other up and down the Christmas tree. Hear the sound of 2 million pine needles hitting the presents. Cringe at the shattering glass, as the precious ornaments…each with its own story…fall from the tree and hit the Lego sets below. Do. Not. Turn. Around. And. Look. At. The. Carnage.

10. The following morning, announce that, “we are getting that miserable excuse for a Christmas tree out of this house today”. Tell the kids to pipe down when they beg for one more day. When your husband walks past you on the way to his shed and you overhear him mutter, “I just need my chainsaw,” take a tug of that Bailey’s. It matters not that it’s only 8:30AM. Chainsaw + Christmas tree + Family Room = No one will judge you. When he returns to the house with a pair of pruning shears, breathe a sigh of relief. Keep the children occupied while he desecrates the Christmas tree that you grabbed in a flash they chose so lovingly. After he’s hacked off every single branch, beg him not to show the children the naked trunk that used to be their beloved Christmas tree. Dry their tears and offer hugs of compassion when he disregards your plea because he believes, “this is one of the greatest ideas I’ve ever had”.  Silently vow to head directly to Target to purchase an artificial tree on clearance the minute they are all back in school.

Follow these 10 steps to ensure your kids too will need post-holiday therapy. Until next year…

**This post appeared in the parenting section of the Huffington Post on January 4th, 2013.

photo (11)

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree! How lovely are your branches…er….um…

24 thoughts on “10 Steps to Ensure Your Kids Will Need Post-Holiday Therapy

    • Oh, B&B still claims this was one of his most resourceful ideas. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. I’m not so proud of accusing the children of taking the magic from Christmas just because they wouldn’t listen to my ornament stories. I should probably start in on the Bailey’s a little earlier in the tree trimming next year. Thanks for reading!

    • Thanks, Nicole! It’s funny how I picture it unfolding perfectly. And how comical it is in reality. I hope your first Christmas in your new home was less exciting and just as magical as ours was!

  1. Forget the kids – this is a sure-fire way for YOU to need therapy after the holidays. My eye is twitching after just reading it.

    • When these escapades coincide with PMS, look out. Fortunately for all parties involved, the stars were aligned in B&B’s favor.

  2. Laughing like a lunatic in my living room! Thanks for giving me this. I really needed it this morning. I spent the night with a feverish Little One coughing like a smoker all night. I was so delirious this morning that I tried to send the First Born out to the bus almost 20 minutes early.

    I don’t quite get the idea of stripping the tree in the living room, but if it works for B&B…. um …. God Bless you! That picture is priceless.

    We had to do an artificial tree 3 years ago when Lil One broke out in hives after we brought the tree in and decorated it. That was 3 days before Christmas and it was almost “The Christmas Without A Tree” But luckily after a 6 hour tour of all the stores in the tri-state area, we found a good fake one!

    Have a great 2013! Looking forward to your book! 😉

    Much Love!
    Momma O

    • Allergies are a bust. I love the process of choosing the tree. Love driving home with it. Love the anticipation of decorating it. The decorating itself is a pain in the ass because the boys turn it into a competition. And the undecorating is no fun. Cleanup…the worst. Thanks for reading! Hope Little One is feeling better soon! Saw his picture on FB…wanting only to sit with you! I love those days!

  3. Clearly B & B has never seen a house catch on fire because of the Christmas tree! YIKES! I think 4 boys has finally pushed him over the deep end! But despite all that, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Great post!

    • I’ve mentioned the fire thing. His reply is, “not with these lights”. He says it very confidently. Borderline annoyed with me. So, I don’t even ask. It was a great Christmas…hope yours was as well!

  4. What can I say, you nailed it again. B&B would go berserk here…2 Live trees. One in the living room, one in the family room. Big. Every year hubby threatens the artificial thing as I have him lift, turn, and go to the next one as we choose our trees. Then he threatens again as he pays for finally chosen trees. The third time is as he has to get both trees bagged, tagged, and hauled home in the mini van. Then there is when he has to get them both out of the van and onto the back deck because it is “too early” to bring them into the house. Followed by when said trees have to be brought into the house, up into the stands, and we find the “right” side. Now, don’t forget the most favorite time of all…stringing on the “gazillion” lights it takes on each tree. All that is followed by the weeks of watering, and we have our own pvc funnel contraption, and the vaccuuming of the pine needles. Then there is prying the trees from my death grip because I need one more night to sit in the dark and “look at the lights”. But, in the end he does it every year. What can I say, he loves me, and the tree is just one of my favorite parts of the holiday. So Happy New Year…I gotta go turn off the lights, and look at my trees. After all, their days are numbered….

    • Debbie, YOU nailed it! he loves you indeed! We go through the same routine here. Although B&B doesn’t get his Ebeneezer Scrooge on until the tree needs watering. I love the idea of two trees. We barely have space for one! Thanks for reading, and for this fun comment!

  5. Holy shit. Absolutely awesome and hysterical and real. From your hubs pinching your ass as you walk through the trees to his amorous advances under the splinter tree to well, everything? Still laughing.

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