a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Dec, 2008

Family Advent days 14 and 15: trees and tv

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

The days are just flying by now. Our activity on the 14th was to decorate the tree. I have thought about what I want to write about the process, one that should be happy, creative, family time, but I have to confess, I don’t enjoy decorating the tree. This is one activity I added to our list because the girls love doing it, not me.

I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t quite put my finger on why it is so. Clearly I must need therapy.

– I love the tree itself. I love picking out the tree, driving home with it strapped precariously to the roof of the car (or jutting out the trunk), the smell of the tree, the look of the tree, heck, I don’t even mind the inevitable Needle Drop. I love having a living tree in my living room. If I could I would have a tree all year round.

– I don’t mind unwrapping the decorations. It’s like a mini-Christmas, all those ornaments. There’s a feeling of anticipation with every unwrapping, with every reveal. The “Oh! Remember this one?”  is a pretty good feeling.

– But then it all falls apart for me, on the inside. My heart deflates a little and just lies there, beating weakly. I asked Emma to put on a Christmas record, which she did. We sang along and I tried to put on a happy face. It didn’t do it for me.

At this time I am too easily annoyed by the girls hyper-excitement. Many of the ornaments are fragile and require a bit of special care. I know this now, when the girls are really happy and excited they act a little crazy, but I am ill-equipped to deal with it when the tree is on the scene.

I once swore I would never be the kind of overbearing/controlling parent who rearranges the decorations her children put on the tree. I told myself I would let my  kids do what they wanted… creative expression and all that. (Mind you, I’m not the type of person who insists on having a colour-coordinated tree that looks like it came out of a catalogue.) 

I tried, at the beginning, to sit back and watch, but I couldn’t help myself.

 Family advent day 14: Decorating the tree

I didn’t reveal too much of my dissatisfaction (for lack of a better word) out loud: i.e. You can’t have two ornaments so close together! They need to hang! There’s a GAP right here.   So I rearranged on the sly, or, when I was seen, I’d explain that the ornament I was holding needed a stronger branch. Sometimes this was true.

I don’t really like our tree lights. I have yet to find some LEDs that have the same twinkle and warmth that the old incandescents had, but I hate thinking about (and shelling out for) new ones.

As I sit here and think about it I realize that I would secretly like to come home (after partaking in some shortbread, fancy coffee, or an icy Baileys) – to a fully decorated tree, not having had anything to do with it. 

Does this make me a scrooge or what? I hate that I can’t pull myself together. I hate that I can’t find the joy in decorating the tree with my loved ones.

Here’s the view from the couch, after all was said and done:

Family advent day 14: Tree is finished

Okay. Enough about that.

Afterwards we made popcorn and watched an Eloise Christmas movie. It’s an okay film. I like the Eloise books, especially the illustrations, but I couldn’t figure out why, in the movie version, Julie Andrews was putting on a cockney accent. Is the nanny portrayed this way in the books? I also couldn’t help but wonder whether she’d had a face lift.

On the 15th we were supposed take an evening stroll with our lanterns but the weather didn’t agree. Instead we made cookies (brown sugar buttons) and watched Polar Express. There are some imaginative details that make this movie pretty special, and I liked it how it dealt with the idea of belief and disbelief. If you’re interested, Roger Ebert pretty much nailed it in his review.

 Okay. Back to work.

p.s. this is part of my 25 days of Christmas challenge. It’s never too late to play along. And do consider joining our Flickr group too.

5 Responses to "Family Advent days 14 and 15: trees and tv"

1 | Javamom

December 16th, 2008 at 10:17 am


For me, it’s the cooking baking. Really, why do I bother? Isn’t there enough sweet stuff around? But the 3yo likes it, and he likes the sprinkles (I hate sprinkles on cookies), he likes the gooie feel on his hands, and he likes the cookie cutters, and, and, and…so we bake. Oh well. I have to admit I don’t hate eating them…

2 | Lynn

December 16th, 2008 at 1:34 pm


Since the Captain was born, I’ve slowly been converting all our tree decorations to unbreakables. Before we had kids we had very few decorations and they were all simple glass balls, so it was no big deal to pack them away and start fresh. Now I can let them decorate without fear…and then come back later in the evening to reshuffle as necessary :).

3 | Shan

December 16th, 2008 at 10:40 pm


My six year old has a little tree in her room that is hers to decorate. I find I don’t enjoy decorating the tree when the kids are around. Luckily my oldest loves the magic of waking up to the Christmas tree the morning after I have decorated it.

4 | LO

December 16th, 2008 at 11:14 pm


I’m starting to think cards are overrated-laureleanderson.com

5 | Amy

December 16th, 2008 at 11:38 pm


I always liked decorating the tree, but my mom always did what you do – perfect tree syndrome. Plus she always WAY overdoes decorating the entire house.

The funny thing is, now I do it too (micro-managing the tree trimming). I realize it, and last year when my niece “helped” decorate, I made myself scarce when I got too annoyed. If you can’t be nice about it, why ruin everyone else’s fun?

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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