Monday, December 9, 2013

My Christmas tree is trying to kill me

Black Friday is probably my favorite day of the year but not for the sales. Our family tradition is to decorate for Christmas. Now I am one of those die hard "we are cutting down our own tree" people and drag my family out to the tree farm every year to search for the perfect tree. Well, actually the 2 perfect trees because I put one up in the playroom for the kids to decorate with colored lights and all their ornaments.
I put on my favorite Christmas album (Christmas with the Rat Pack) and blast Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra through the house all day while we munch on homemade sugar covered cranberries and drink hot chocolate while we decorate with a fire burning in the fire place. The funny thing is that living in South Carolina  about every other year it is 80 degrees and I still insist on the fire and the hot chocolate- even as I'm sweating in my tank top.
Well this year was no different and we piled in the car and headed to the tree farm. We easily picked out the downstairs tree but had a hard time finding a smaller tree for the playroom. All the trees were so big. We searched and searched and finally found the smallest tree on the farm (which was still about 5 ft tall). We cut it down, bagged it up, and headed home. We spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the big tree downstairs and thankfully this year it was cold enough to warrant my obligatory fire.
The kids were upset that we ran out of time to decorate their tree so I plopped them in front of a Christmas movie with some dinner and snuck upstairs to hang the lights on their tree.
 Now I will say that the lights part is definitely my least favorite part of decorating the tree. The cuts and scrapes from the pine needles....ugh. I was steadily working with my sleeves pushed up and was about halfway through when my hands and arms began stinging. I tried to power through but it was just getting worse. This was not the normal stinging. This was intense and just kept getting worse. As I pulled my arms from the center of the tree I realized I had thorns imbedded in my hands, knuckles, and arms. About 150 thorns.
I quickly began pulling the thorns from my skin. As I pulled the last thorn out I looked up at my half lit Christmas tree and knew what had to be done. I pulled my sleeves down over my hands, gritted my teeth, and began to finish the tree. By the time I was done (and had to pull another 150 thorns out of my shirt) my hands were throbbing. I tried to wash them but this only made it worse. I then had the brilliant idea to try putting some lotion on it to "seal" the wounds I thought. Well, I may as well have just poured acid all over my hands as the burning/throbbing intensified. I was sure my skin would melt off as I frantically splashed water on my arms- to no avail.
That night every time I moved my hands I was awakened by the excruciating pain. Even the slightest twitch of a finger would jolt me awake to 20 minutes of throbbing. When morning finally came I dragged myself into the bathroom and as I flipped on the lights I looked down to see my hands, knuckles, and arms covered in huge swollen pus-filled blisters. My right hand was so swollen I couldn't bend my fingers and both arms were still throbbing.

That night I took a deep breath as the children and I slowly walked up the stairs. We stood in the playroom looking at the lit but naked tree. I steeled myself against the pain, picked up an orange glitter covered fish, and hung it on the tree. With each ornament RJ hung on the tree she would shriek with pain.
Halfway through the box of ornaments she looked at me with tears in her eyes.
"Ok," I sighed. "I'll finish it myself."
This is a picture of one of my knuckles on day 4.

By day 6 the blisters had turned into scabs covering my hands and arms. And now, 10 days out, there are only slight scars to remind me of the horror of that Black Friday.
Merry Christmas everyone.

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