The tipsy-topsy tree

December 3, 2007

by Jen Bakken

It’s hard to believe the month of December is here.

I’ve begrudgingly accepted that cold weather is inevitable and have, somewhat, adjusted to darkness arriving before dinnertime.

Once again, I’ve foiled my plan to purchase gifts ahead of time and will be fighting the sale-searching crowds.

My children are counting down the days until they can unwrap presents, and I am counting how many paychecks I have left to purchase those gifts with.

Though I can accept the cold, the darkness, and my shopping procrastination, what I can’t accept is a tipsy-topsy tree.

Each year, we take out the boxes marked “Christmas” and put up our fake, and thankfully pre-lighted, tree.

We sit on the floor and sort through the colorful pile of ornaments. My two sons and my daughter have their own ornaments to put up and they do so by themselves. This is where the tipsy-topsy stuff happens.

I always explain that the ornaments should adorn more than the bottom front of the tree, but it never truly sinks in. (More proof that my children refuse to listen, or have selective hearing.)

Therefore, with things dangling from one small part, the tree becomes what I call, “the tipsy-topsy tree.”

I know I should just leave it that way because it’s something they created. I shouldn’t change their Christmas masterpiece, but I can’t help it. Once they have walked away from the tree, I immediately run over and rearrange all the decorations. I can’t help myself.

If this makes me “mommy Bah Humbug,” then I guess it’s something to add to my list of things I need to accept. I could never live with a crooked picture on the wall, and I certainly can’t stand for a tipsy-topsy tree.

There’s a friend of mine who avoids this situation by having two Christmas trees, one for the kids to decorate, their own way, and one for her to make festively beautiful, her way.

I refuse to put up two trees because what goes up must also come down, and who needs more to put away?

Unfortunately my kids are, now, old enough to notice when things aren’t how they left them.

Once I secretly revamped our little tree, my children began asking, “Hey, who moved my Hello Kitty ball on the tree?”

“That’s not where I put Spiderman!”

“Why is my cool Sponge Bob ornament way in the back?”

It makes me wonder if I should feel horrible that I do this, or if I’m the only mom who does?

I just can’t accept a tipsy-topsy tree.