Christmas Tree Dilemma Resolved, Almost, by Rich Paschall
Sometimes you don’t have the energy to assist a mate on a household project. You may be tired from your own projects and duties and don’t want to pitch in. We all have these feelings. You would just rather find a quiet place and rest. It’s understandable. We can’t be charged up and ready to go all the time.
Partnerships are like this. You have your tasks, and I have mine, and then there are those unclaimed tasks. Who will do it? Will you do it? Shall I do it? Shall we do it together? Negotiation is the key.
There are those negotiations that are a trap, however. Remember now that I am giving you fair warning. They may seem innocent enough, but you will soon realize that negotiation was unnecessary and the decision was already made. The “negotiation” or “discussion” is just meant to draw you in so the conniving mate can pounce. You may have read this pre-Christmas discussion before:
“When are you going to put up the tree?”
“You can put it up.”
“You put it up every year.”
“Then you should do it.”
This is the place to stop and walk away. The crafty mate does not really want you to put up the tree. He wants you to AGREE to put up the tree or to assist in putting up the tree. The point is your acquiescence, not your assistance. As soon you agree, the scheming mate has won the battle. You have lost.
Next in the conversation would likely be the following.
“Nevermind, I will do it,” with a tinge of martyrdom in his voice.
“I said I would do it.”
“No, that’s all right, I will do it,” with WAY more than a tinge of martyrdom.
“Then I can help!” You have now fallen into trap number two. You did not get out while the getting was good, as my father might have said.
“NO, I will do it all by myself,” stated with a sigh and the realization that such martyrdom will lead to sainthood. In fact, never has there been such a martyr since Joan of Arc.
“Ok, I will get the ornaments out of the closet.” You have still not learned your lesson.
“Oh, is that where you hid them?” You are now a three-time loser in the game of “Bait the Mate.”
When the Colombian formerly known as John arrived much too early in the day to put up the tree and I foolishly said, “Are you putting up the tree today?” I was greeted with the obvious response, “I said I would do it, didn’t I?” This was stated in a somewhat wounded voice as if I did not trust him to actually put up the tree.
Fueled by my excellent chili and 312, a local Chicago brew, plus Latino Mix music on his phone, “He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work…” OK, not true. I was trying to work and someone was asking questions, calling friends, and trying to have me talk on the phone to his mother, who does not speak English. For the record, I do not speak Spanish. “Hola”
When out in the living room there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the front room, I flew like a flash,
Tripped over the footstool and fell on my…face
Well, I didn’t actually fall, but what is all this stuff doing in my way? I stopped to comment on ornaments or some such foolish thing to be greeted with, “Who is doing this, you or me?”
Let me explain the brief 5-year history of our tree. Roomie never had a tree in Colombia and really wanted one the first Christmas he was here. We have the tree he selected, the ornaments he wanted, even the giant star for the top of the tree he picked out. I don’t think either of us knew it would throw such interesting patterns on the ceiling. It is his tree and he has every intention of doing 100 percent of the setting up and decorating. That’s good because I am past the point of wanting to do it anyway.
Now we are at the next crossroads. I think that after the three kings arrive, so to speak, we can take down the tree.
“OH! Is that when you think we should take it down?” roomie stated all aghast.
Apparently, he thinks sometime in February would be good enough. I am hoping he has his own epiphany before then.
See also: “The Christmas Tree Dilemma,” SERENDIPITY, December 11, 2022.