Sometimes I think the main lesson of motherhood is learning to manage expectations. How old is my child, and what should I expect of him at this age? What should I expect from life in general? Maybe the most dangerous thing is having unrealistic expectations as you go into daily life with a baby/toddler/child/spouse. I tend to have grand dreams and ideas of how holidays and special occasions will play out. I often imagine beautiful scenes with handmade decor, homemade foods, and basically something straight from your favorite board on Pinterest. I always imagine my lovely toddler being on his best and sweetest behavior. What I get is usually quite different.
What I envisioned when I planned our trip to go cut down a Christmas tree:
We would arrive at the farm around 4:30 pm. The afternoon light would be streaming through the rows of pine trees creating the perfect lighting for the photos of the blessed event. (This is extremely important to a photographer-mom) We would waltz through the rows searching for the tree. It would be just the right height and without holes. We would ride back on the hay ride carrying our prize tree.
What really happened:
Mike got off of work late, causing us to be in a huge hurry. Realizing it was going to be pitch black when we arrived, I frantically searched for my flash….which I could not find. We arrive at the farm just 15 minutes before they will close. We jump on the last hay ride available to take us to the field. We get off the hay ride at the first stop and cut down the first tree we see. And when I say see, I mean whatever you can see in the pitch black night via flashlight.
Having no flash unit on top of my camera, I hold the flashlight with my left hand and the camera with my right. Yes, I’m “lighting” the scene with a flashlight.
We jump back on the hay ride, and I attempt to get a cute photo of Lincoln. No go. He’s screaming and cranky because it’s too close to bedtime.
We arrive back to pay for the tree and realize they broke the top limb off on the hay ride. There’s no going back now since the farm is closing, so we take our damaged tree and go home. We arrive home and see our tree in the light of the living room, only to discover there are many gaps in our already defective tree. Cue the attitude check. Cue the lecture I give myself in my head about remembering what Christmas is really about. Cue the reminder I give myself about expectations with an 18-month-old.
Even with the comedy of errors that our trip became, it’s still better than my husband’s suggestion to buy a fake tree. Sorry, Mike. Not even the Great Christmas Tree Debacle of 2011 could make me do that. We’ll just try to achieve my beautiful Christmas tree cutting vision again next year.