December 5, 2016 LIGHTS…ORNAMENTS…DISASTER!!! I LOVE Christmas, don’t get me wrong. But after today, I’d kind of like to burn down every Christmas tree farm in the land!!!! The problem wasn’t getting the tree. This year we skipped the whole cut-it-down-yourself thing and just got one from the grocery store parking lot. Once the tree was inside our house, my mother got a very serious expression on her face. She sat me down on the couch and said, “Nikki, because you’re getting older, there’s a Christmas honor I think you’re ready for.” I wondered if she was going to let me wear this really pretty bracelet she has with tiny rubies and emeralds. Or if I was going to be in charge of picking the charities where we take presents for kids who don’t have anything. Or…something I couldn’t even imagine! Instead, she pulled out the dusty plastic bin full of decorations. “You’re going to put the lights on the tree!!” She said this like I was getting a brand new car! Like I haven’t heard her grumbling about how much she hates putting lights on the tree every year of my life. Meanwhile, Brianna was bouncing (literally) all around the room, chanting, “ORNAMENTS! ORNAMENTS! ORNAMENTS!” “We can’t do ornaments until Nikki puts the lights on,” my mom told her. “How about you and I make some cookies while Nikki’s doing her very important job?” So Brianna’s chant switched to, “COOKIES! COOKIES! COOKIES!” And I was left with the naked tree and the bin full of lights! “Mom!” I called into the kitchen. “Do I HAVE to?” She was quiet for a second and I wondered if she’d heard me. Then she popped her head back in the room and smiled sweetly. “Only if you want Santa to know you’ve been good this year!” This was SO unfair! And it was NOT a great honor. But…I figured it couldn’t be that difficult either. I opened the bin. The tangle inside looked like Brianna’s jewelry box, except instead of cheapo necklaces tangled together, it was who knows how many strings of lights. Which are all the same, so it’s impossible to tell where one ends and another one begins. I reached into the bin and tried to pull out one string of lights, but they were all clumped together in a giant wad. It took me about half an hour just to get them untangled. (I was starting to understand why my mom grumbles so much about this job.) My next problem was figuring out whether I was supposed to start at the top of the tree or the bottom. Did it matter? I’m not going to record every little thing that happened as I struggled to get the lights on the tree because my diary can’t hold that many words! And I already lived through it once! But let’s just say it’s turns out putting lights on a tree IS that difficult. AND I got poked in the eye. Twice!! So, the lights were finally on the tree. “I’m done!” I called. Mom and Brianna hurried in, licking cookie batter off of beaters. “Well?” Mom said. “Let’s see!” I went to plug them in. The bottom of the tree lit up…but the top of the tree was completely dead. Brianna didn’t even notice. She dove for the box of decorations and started pulling out ornaments. “Hang on, Brianna,” my mom said. “Nikki needs to fix the lights before we put the ornaments on the tree.” Brianna was about to start wailing, but my mom grabbed her hand and said, “We need to make the frosting for the cookies!” Those cookies were baked, cooled, and FROSTED by the time I got the dud lights off, new lights on, and the tree was finally ready for ornaments. My mom brought me a frosted snowman. “You know, Nikki, one day you’ll have a daughter of your own. And you’ll be able to pass along the honor of the Christmas lights to her, when she’s ready.” She got a little misty-eyed. She was actually emotional about this! Maybe she really DID consider it an honor! Then she wiped her eyes and said, “I am just so glad I’LL never have to do it again!” I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Thanks a lot, Mom. I’m looking forward to the day I’ll never have to do it again, too!” What holiday traditions do you and your family have that you’re looking forward to? And, what tradition gets on your last nerve?