The children lost interest in the Christmas tree five minutes after we dragged it into the house, just as I had predicted.
But I made the mistake of suggesting that maybe this was the year we could give up the holiday charade and openly celebrate the family that we really are: a mismatched collection of people living in a house made entirely of half-eaten food and dirty laundry.
"Do we really need a Christmas tree?" I asked, because I, alone of all my family members, have the courage to ask the tough questions. "Does anybody really care?"
No one did until that exact moment. It was a tactical error so obvious you would think I had never even read Lord of the Flies. Now, in place of apathy and fast food, the children were filled with conviction: Mom must not be allowed to destroy Christmas, even if nobody cares.
And so, a tree is procured and deposited in a corner of the living room where a table and a lamp should be. The pine needles are ground into the carpeting in the last few spaces not already occupied by the pine needles of Christmases past. A basement closet is ransacked and boxes of ornaments strewn across two floors, where they will sit unopened until the one person in the house who knew this was a bad idea is forced to open them and drape 15 years worth of paper scraps across the tree, which will dry up into a mass of needle-sharp sticks over a period of weeks until the same person is forced to strip it bare, drag it out the curb and vacuum for the next 72 hours.
from the holiday archives: Happy Ho!idays from our Dysfunctiona! Family to Yours!