Stages of efficient Christmas decorating for peak family bonding

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. On the first Saturday of December, decide to “put lights up” and “get the tree today” and prepare for it by lying on your bed and texting a friend about her afternoon plans and how you’d rather do that.
  2. Wonder if there’s some way you can avoid “getting the tree today.”
  3. Keep doing that until 2pm.
  4. Realize if you don’t get the tree today you’ll have to do it on a weekday after school, which sounds like hell.
  5. Head out to locally owned Christmas tree farm at 2:30pm because you are a thoughtful progressive who wants to support local business. Engage in deep tree analysis based on needle-type, bushy/not bushy, whether or not there’s a “good side,” how many holes exist in the branches, how dry it already is, and, my personal favorite, the fucking price.
  6. Find tree whole family likes only to realize it’s $80. Head to second family owned Christmas tree farm because you refuse to give your money to Home Depot.
  7. Experience same at second place.
  8. Feel your soul leaving your body as you drive to Home Depot.
  9. Find seventeen trees that five out of six of your family members like while trying not to lose toddler in tree rows and/or parking lot since you are, in fact, in a fucking parking lot. Listen to your teenager shame you for having no soul whatsoever, buying a tree from a corporate parking lot “farm.” To which you respond, “I know. I felt it leave my body.”
  10. Realize you no longer care what the tree looks like or who hates it and finally buy one. For $40. Thank you, Home Depot.
  11. Get home and remember you didn’t clear a spot for the tree or get the Christmas boxes out because you fucked around on your phone instead.
  12. Clear a spot for the tree and bring all decorations in and untangle lights and want to die.
  13. At 4:45pm, begin putting lights up on the house. At 5pm, notice it’s dark. Ask yourself why you laid on your bed all morning instead of addressing your life.
  14. At 5:15pm, watch a teenager scream and storm into the house while you point out that he’s “ruining family bonding time.” In doing so, make things immediately worse.
  15. Argue with your partner about light placement, find yourself unable to locate necessary extension cords.
  16. Drive to Walmart to buy extension cords. If you had soul left, it’s gone now.
  17. 6:30pm! Get lights up! Nailed it. It’s super janky but who the fuck cares?
  18. Feel Christmas spirit as you stand in front of the house Griswold-style and watch daddy flip the lights on. Think about how your 17-year-old is nearing the last years she’ll do this, maybe. Cry?
  19. Watch the other teenager get angry. Good feeling gone at second storm into house.
  20. Want to go to bed but remember tree situation.
  21. Decide you just need to get the tree in water so it’s not a fire hazard in two weeks, and we’ll decorate tomorrow “I promise!”
  22. Search garage for tree stand.
  23. Do not find tree stand.
  24. Remember that last year you got rid of tree stand because it was a piece of shit.
  25. Wish you could do life over again or at least that single moment because a piece of shit stand is more than you have now.
  26. Yell at somebody.
  27. Listen to husband offer to take all the kids to Target to buy a tree stand. Tell him he is your Lord and Savior.
  28. Clean the fucking house a little since you neglected it all day, build a fire, and really feel that Christmas spirit, alone, in the house, in sweet, sweet silence. Alone. In the house. How Christmas is supposed to fucking be. Wait.
  29. Watch your husband return. Move shit out of the way for the tree. Puke at what you find beneath furniture.
  30. Observe your husband on the ground trying to get the new tree stand to work. Suggest he stop saying “This motherfucker does not work!”
  31. Sit on couch and offer super helpful directions that increase “motherfucker” utterances.
  32. Have one kid hold tree while you stand across the room and attempt to get it straight. Eventually also realize you don’t care.
  33. The next day, when you’re supposed to be decorating it, write a blog post to your friends.

And, you’re done!


Hey! Today is the last day to buy my ebook for $2.99

on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Don’t miss that shit!

(It goes back to $13.99 tomorrow.)




12 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | December 2, 2018
  • Kathleen

    Holy crap, you make me laugh! Been there, done that. But here I was today, stringing the lights on by myself. Daughter at college, son in the Marines, husband no longer with me. And I remember those days fondly. Go figure. Love you

  • Isabel

    Could not stop laughing as I read this post, then went to Amazon and got your book. ????????????

  • Brenda

    Yes. Yes. This was us, today and every year. Today’s version included a car and trailer for the tree stuck in the mud, tractor trying to pull out car and trailer and getting stuck in the mud, unhooking the trailer, eventually getting everything out of the mud and over to the local tree farm, where we eventually paid a hundred and flipping thirty two dollars for a bleeping tree that had been chopped three weeks ago and shipped in from who-knows-where (learned that part after it was loaded into the trailer), got the bleeping tree home, re-tilted it in the tree stand 3 times, listened to husband yell at 7-year-old for spilling water on the floor while trying to water the tree because for godsake it is going to buckle the wood and why would you get the white towel from the bathroom to clean it up, you’re gonna ruin that towel. Hauled up 6 boxes of crappy Christmas ornaments and lights from the basement and swore that is going to be the year I sort through it all. Of course not. Who am I kdding? Finish the tree and then 7-year-old has a meltdown because he doesn’t have enough money for the $39 nerf gun that he craves more than life itself and why won’t I find a chore he can do that I will pay him $40 for.

    But you know, wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yes, I know you already knew that.

  • Michaela

    ???????????????? you nailed it again!!!

  • Stacey Sullivan

    This was my exact weekend! Down to the tree stand and irate husband!!!

  • Lorain

    Yikes, trees! The chaos and drama — the struggle is real. I can’t believe we used to go to a Christmas tree farm to cut our own. We always managed to get one that was too tall, so we’d need to cut it back. When we broke down and bought an artificial tree, we made the same mistake. (It looked perfect in the store!) Ok, we put no star on the top of the tree and moved a major piece of furniture to another room. We did this every damn year until we bought a smaller one. By the time we moved, we had three fake trees in the attic.

    Thanks for the laughs, the memories, and the book. (It’s wonderful!) This year, we’re going to have Christmas with the kids and grandkids in another city. There will be one glorious week of mayhem. We can do this. Making memories is a messy business, but you just jump in and go for it. Merry Christmas!

  • Katie

    I too have no soul and will be going to home despot

  • MaryEl

    I had to read this one aloud to my whole family. So real! And we have yet to get any decorations up. Maybe next weekend…

  • Sierra

    This sounds like Christmas at my house growing up. Now that we have our own family and place, we will carry on with a fake tree from Wal-Mart until he own a house. Then we will carry on the family tradition of fighting with each other while trying to put the tree up.

  • Susie Apold

    You do make me laugh….this is spectacular,so many memories and I’m not even a mum.Threw out the stand 2 years ago….etc.

  • Jen

    Love this – thank you! This sums up how I feel about the holidays in general … I realized though, the last few days, my bah-humbug status is due to overwhelming OCD when it comes to decorating for holidays … I just want an artificial rustic tree with white twinkling lights and matching glass, gold and white ornaments with a touch of nature thrown in … instead, thanks to the kids, my tree is a Charlie Brown wanna be that looks like the Grinch puked all over it and I spend the next four weeks hating it and cursing every time I vacuum up pine needles (which, by the way, continues until like fucking July!). Thank you for making me feel a little less alone! 🙂

    • Onica Nichols

      Love this post! We did the exact same thing a few years ago and ended up at Home Depot getting a tree. I even took photos of the kids carrying it threw the parking lot:). We got home and also found that we didn’t have a working tree stand. Before the year of the Home Depot tree we lived by a beautiful tree farm that had trees you cut down yourself at very reasonable prices. It was always still a struggle to get them set up in the house and those were the years when your lights never stayed lit. And if you forgot to water them you had a serious fire hazard in the house by Christmas morning. Pretty sure no one cared but me that the tree was real. Four years ago we bought a fake tree at Target for $40. Yes, you can tell it’s fake, but who cares? It actually looks really nice and always fits perfectly in the small space we have for a tree. It holds all the decorations my kids have made over the past 24 years, which is what matters most to me. I bought some tree scented candles because I missed the smell. Ever year we say we will still go to a tree farm just for the expierience of being there but that hasn’t happened yet.