|Just a few of the elves who made this magic happen!|
On Halloween night, my mom took her dog out for a walk before bedtime. It was dark and she was in a hurry to get back home so she could start decorating for Christmas. (If you're a little shocked by that last bit, it must be because you've never read Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat. If you'd read that book, then you'd know that my mom begins the arduous task of decorating for Christmas the moment she says goodbye to her last trick-or-treater.) Anyway, she was already dreaming of unpacking her hundreds of bins of decorations and greeting each Santa and snowman like family. My dad was out of town and she had big plans to stay up late into the night, blasting Christmas music and covering every surface with garland, lights, tinsel, or all of the above.
She should have been paying closer attention, though, because while she was lost in the Candy Cane Forest, she missed a pothole and fell right in. Instead of being taken to an alternate universe where it was Christmas all year-round and everyone wore adorable coats and hats and drank hot cocoa while ice skating outside even though it was never quite cold enough to keep that gorgeous pond frozen, my mom found herself splayed out in the middle of the road with her dog looking at her like, "What just happened, human? Are we sleeping here now?"
She hobbled home and made it through a sleepless night, tossing and turning in pain. No Christmas decorating was done that night. In fact, the Halloween decorations were still there the following morning. The horror!!
She called me bright and early to say she needed a ride to the emergency room. "I'm pretty sure something is broken," she said.
Several hours later, it was confirmed that, indeed, her arm was broken. When we got her home, she looked around her house sadly and said, "I don't know when I'll get the Christmas decorations up."
I knew what she was hinting at, but I wasn't going to take the bait. I'd just spent all morning in the ER and I had work to do, there was no way I was going to stay all day and decorate.
And "stay all day" wouldn't even do it. No way! It takes WEEKS to transform my mom's house into a Winter Wonderland. Every year I give her a few days of help and we make a small dent in her mountain of bins.
"Mom, I can't decorate your house," I said. "I will be back over the weekend with the kids and we'll put up ONE tree. ONE. So pick your favorite. One tree will have to be enough this year. We'll do a tree and the stockings, but that will be it."
My mom sighed heavily, "Okay..."
I had to go before the guilt overcame me. "I need to go, Mom. Call me if you need anything." The that-isn't-decorating part was silent.
My dad was gone all week, so I continued to call and check on her. Each day her sighs got even longer and her melancholy was downright palpable. In the meantime, my niece and nephew went over and took down all of her Halloween decorations and left a tree for me and my kids to decorate. I asked her when I could come over and decorate. That's when I think she uttered the words, "Christmas is ruined!"
Yeah, my mom is a little dramatic. And, yeah, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
"Mom, Christmas isn't ruined," I said. "You'll get one tree done."
"I know," she said. I couldn't see her, but the tone of her voice told me she was literally sinking deeper into her couch and pulling her dog closer for comfort.
Good grief, I thought. This is getting out of hand.
I didn't know what to do. I figured maybe it was time for a little tough love with her.
But then again, I didn't like to see my mom so sad. She LIVES for Christmas. I don't understand it, nor do I share her love, but for her, it's real. She counts down to Christmas starting in July. She decorates for weeks and gets so much joy from her decor that it will sustain her for the entire year. Ugh. If she didn't get her decorations up, she'd be depressed all year long.
My dad wasn't going to help her and I couldn't do it all.
That's when I thought of my go-to solution to every major problem I encounter: the internet.
"Hey, Mom, what do you think about me putting out an appeal online to your friends and family to help you for ONE day. Whatever we get done that day is all you get. No matter what, it would still be more than what I could do on my own."
My mom immediately perked up. "Oh, that would be wonderful!" she exclaimed.
"Okay, I'm going to put out the call and see who responds."
Later that day I put up a Facebook post asking for Christmas elves who wanted to be a part of their very own Hallmark Christmas miracle movie.
The response was amazing. So many of our friends and family chimed in and said they'd come. One friend even said, "I don't decorate my own house, but I'll come and do yours!"
The response was so great that some people even showed up early! Like, a week early.
|So glad these ladies showed up early so we could figure out how to make the next week even better.|
The following Saturday after posting, I received a frantic call from my mom. "Jackie and her girls are here!" she said.
"What?" I almost puked. "Did I put out the wrong date?" It was INCREDIBLY plausible I had because my brain is mostly mashed potatoes these days.
"I don't know," Mom whispered. "But you need to come. Now."
So, I brushed my teeth and threw on a bra and headed over. Jackie and I had a good laugh when we realized that for once it wasn't my error, because it easily could have been. Again, I have mashed potatoes for brains and I have shown up early, late, or not at all to many, many, many things.
It actually worked out great that Jackie was early because she was able to stay a few hours and we got to do a run-through and figure out how to make the following weekend a lot more streamlined.
The following week was when the masses rolled in wearing their Christmas shirts and Santa hats ... and one even had a sling like Mom's. We decided they could work together and make a whole person.
|Even with one arm, Cheron managed to dress for the occasion!|
I had warned my mom that even though she can be a little particular about her decorations, this was the year to be like Elsa and Let it go....
"Everyone only has a little time, so whatever gets done, gets done. Things will get broken. Things will be put in the 'wrong' place. And it will all be okay, because it was better than it was ever going to be if I did it, right?" I counseled her.
My mom didn't need the pep talk, though, she was just so freaking grateful anyone showed up, she would have stayed silent if the snowmen decorations were put on the Santa tree. Or if the bedroom village ended up in the living room and vice versa. Or if the master bath Christmas towels were hung in the guest bath. None of it mattered because she was thrilled that any of it was getting done.
|Hot cocoa and cookie station. Can't have a party without treats.|
And within a few hours, those elves had it all done. Every bin was empty. Every tree was lit and decorated. Every picture and rug was replaced with a Christmas-themed picture and rug. And my sister-in-law had managed to place some extra items around the house for my mom to find. She found this one tucked into her village in record time!
|With a MILLION decorations, I don't know how she can sense the ones that don't belong.|
It was truly a Christmas miracle--for Mom and for me, because there was no way I could get it all done by myself. The internet might seem like a cesspool sometimes, but there are a lot of good people out there and sometimes you can harness the power of the internet for good!
Thank you so much to everyone who came out last Saturday and made this happen. I'm so grateful and my mom is so grateful too. It went so well and looks sooooo good!! In fact, it went so well that if we're not careful, Mom might break her leg next year on purpose just so she can have another decorating party!
|It's a good thing we had help because I'd never make a tree look this good.|