Last weekend, I realized I still had a bunch of holiday chores to complete, and a very small window of time to complete them. After all the sadness of last Friday, I decided a huge dose of holiday cheer was just what we needed. Thus Holly Day 2012 was born: a day in which I would cram every single pre-Christmas tradition I had put off into a single day.
Some of you might recall that I don’t have the best track record with Christmas. I find it to be much more stressful than joyous — I hate decorating, I have to stretch an already Spandex-tight budget even further, and there are waaaaaaaay too many drag-the-kids-out-in-public events for my taste. And let’s not even talk about the Great Tree Disaster of 2010.
But not this year. Noooooooooooo. This year, it was going to be fun. I had it all planned out:
A) See Santa (or, as Rob put it to Phaedra, “a guy dressed up as Santa“)
B) Decorate the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music
C) Watch Christmas TV shows all day
D) Drive to the local county light festival and hope they fall asleep on the way home
First: Santa. Instead of dragging all three kids to the mall, which is always a disaster in some form, I decided to heed my friend’s advice and check out the local florist/greenhouse. The Boy Scouts have a pretty nice Santa operation running, and the best part — you can take your own pictures for free, or buy one from them for a measly $5.00. Also? It’s two minutes from my house. BOOM.
The second we pulled into the parking lot, Phaedra became suspicious.
“Where are we? What’s this? I thought we were going to see Santa?”
“We are! Santa is here!”
“But this isn’t the mall! I thought we were going to the mall! I wanted a pretzel!“
Huh. Did not anticipate this.
“Well…this place is cool! There’s flowers in here! You could pick out your own flower if you wanted!”
“…a pink one?”
Excellent. We get in the door, and it is a pretty cool place, but it’s also an old mom-and-pop place with narrow aisles and shelves filled with extremely breakable gift items. I was following those kids like the goddamn Secret Service, except I’m pretty sure Secret Service agents don’t have to say, “Mr. President, please don’t touch that!” fifty thousand times when he visits a museum or a coffee shop or whatever.
In spite of threatening to leave if they didn’t STOP TOUCHING THINGS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, Santa was pretty successful. We got a great picture and we came home with a stuffed animal and a pink poinsettia. Plus, my kids got to sit in a legit sleigh. I repeat: they sat in Santa’s sleigh, you guys.
High on success from our Santa visit, I decided to push on to the next event: decorating the tree. I got Surrey down for a nap, dragged everything down from the attic, turned on the Pandora Christmas station, and started setting things up. The kids happily decorated the tree with our growing collection of non-breakable ornaments, and guess what? I’M ROCKING THE SHIT. AGAIN. Surrey woke up in the middle of it and was a little cranky, so I held her for the last few ornaments. As I leaned over and down to reach for the last ornament, I thought, “This was great! You know, Christmas decorating really isn’t so bad. In fact, maybe I’m getting my Christmas spirit back! I think my heart just grew three sizes this day!“
Then I thought, “My knee isn’t supposed to bend that way.”
My creaky, sometimes-achy knee decided it had been ignored for long enough. It went out from under me and bent to the side instead of forward.
I went down, breaking my fall on the empty boxes. I held on to Surrey, but scared the bejesus out of Phaedra and Bella, who were, just seconds before, happily decorating the tree to the sounds of Brenda Lee and Bing Crosby. I was terrified to move me knee, thinking it was either useless or locked. It was neither — it would bear weight and bend, but it hurt like hell. The doctor thinks I tore a ligament, possibly my ACL. Merry Christmas health insurance deductible!
So, the Christmas tree was a quasi-win. I tried to play Christmas shows, but, of course, Bella wants to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! because she’s Bella, that’s why. But that was cool, because I still had one more card to play: the lights. All I had to do was feed them, pack them in the car, and drive through the park to see the lights. Easy peasy. I checked the website: open 7pm-10pm every day. Perfect. Eat dinner by 6:30, leave by 7:00, home by 8:00. I got this.
So a box of mac & cheese later, I bundle them up, pack them in the car, give them each their own paper bag of popcorn to munch on (I KNOW, I’M SO SMART, RIGHT?!) slap an ice pack on my knee, and head off to see the lights. And boy, was I talking them up. I was really getting them pumped up to see those big lights. That was probably the first sign that things weren’t going to go well.
About fourteen minutes into our fifteen minute drive to the park, traffic came to a halt, and we spent the next forty-five minutes crawling about half a block. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only person in metro Detroit that decided to spend their Saturday night at the largest drive-through light show in the Midwest.
Shit started going south real quick. They ate all their popcorn; Surrey, who hates being in the car, began loudly reminding us that she hates being in the car; Bella just gave up and went to sleep; and the litany of “Why aren’t we moving?” and all its variations flowed in a steady stream from Phaedra. Finally, I bribed Phaedra with a McDonald’s smoothie, and we turned around and went home. Whomp whomp.
We ended up sitting on the couch watching Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but they insisted on watching it, so okay. I felt bad enough about scaring them with my fall and dragging them out late at night for no good reason. I was prepared to just admit defeat and call it a day.
When I put Phaedra to bed, though, she told me, “This was the best day ever, Mom.”