Facebook photos never tell the whole story of what it’s like to celebrate the holidays with kids. Let’s look past the pictures and realize we are all just doing our best!

Why social media never tells the whole story

All my news feeds are currently filled with perfect Christmas decorations, smiling children, and the Elf on the Shelf. We are all taking the same pictures! Even though everyone suspects that there is more to someone’s life than what we can see on their page, we continue to share only the best and most beautiful parts of our own lives.

I’m guilty of it, too. This weekend, we had a horrible adventure getting our Christmas tree. The Facebook photos just showed smiling kids, without mentioning the terrible day we had. I guess I was too embarrassed to tell the whole story. But for you, my readers, I try to keep it real on this blog. To give you a true glimpse into my life, let me give you the real story behind the pictures.

Here’s the Facebook version of our family’s weekend:

The day after Thanksgiving, I posted this picture, with the caption, “We got our tree today! Family tradition.”

Our Military Family's Wild Christmas Tree Misadventure

The next day, my Facebook page boasted this wonderful photo, with the caption “We decorated the tree. The toddler is in love!”

Our Military Family's Wild Christmas Tree Misadventure

So I have super cute kids, right? Do you think we had more fun than you this weekend? Don’t be envious. Here is the REAL story!

The true story of our Christmas tree adventure

Our weekend began with plans to get our Christmas tree from a local farm. It soon turned into a Griswold-style comic adventure.

Social Media only shows you the best moments, not the Griswold family misadventures! This Christmas tree story will make you feel better about everything you do this Christmas season. Share on X

The misadventure started Friday morning (Black Friday), when my husband put in his contacts. The night before, I had finished off our bottle of contact cleaning solution, so I replaced it with another bottle I found underneath the sink. It was a different brand, but it was already opened, so I thought he must have used it before.

First Christmas Misadventure: Pain

When my husband put in his contacts the next day, he yelled, and collapsed onto the floor. My military man is no wimp, so I knew he was in severe pain.  He pulled the contact out and threw it onto the counter. He nursed his eye, which was now bright red. I asked him if the contact was ripped, or dirty. It finally occurred to me to examine the bottle. “Hydrogen peroxide solution. Do not apply directly to eye!” The contact solution was intended for a cleaning system that neither of us use. We have no idea how the bottle got into our house, unless he accidentally grabbed someone else’s during deployment.

I felt horrible, and he looked worse. I thought he would want to cancel the Christmas tree expedition. But he still wanted to do it! So, I drove. He continued cursing the pain in his eyes. His contacts didn’t feel right, and he realized they were in the wrong eyes!  He switched them while I was driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway. We had no contact solution in the car. It was a very stressful ride.

Next Misadventure: Getting the Christmas Tree

By the time we reached the tree lot, his eyes were feeling a little better. But our 4 kids had been ignored and hushed during his painful ordeal. So they were all excited and vying for attention. It didn’t take us long to pick out a beautiful tree, but the kids were not very helpful. I managed to take the halfway-decent picture of them in the sled. Here’s the picture that didn’t get posted:

Our Military Family's Wild Christmas Tree Misadventure

1 kid hyper. 1 who is tired and doesn’t want to be in the picture. 1 not paying attention. And the poor baby crowded out, even though she is the only one listening. That right there folks is the story of my life. My kids are crazy.

To complicate things, we had the farm staff attach our large tree stand to the tree before loading it onto the car. It was built with three metal rebar poles that were each 3 feet long–strong enough to support a 7-8 foot tree. We had purchased the stand there the year before, and they had mounted it without issues, so it didn’t occur to us that we could do it at home.

Next Misadventure: Driving a Christmas tree into a parking garage

At this point, we thought the worst part of the day was behind us. We wanted to stop for lunch on the way home. Our GPS told us Cheesecake Factory was only two miles away, so off we drove– with a 7-foot-tall tree and a metal stand on top of our minivan.

We forgot that Cheesecake Factories are usually located inside a Mall. Did I mention that it was Black Friday? We found ourselves in a crazy crowded Mall parking lot on a steep hill. There was no parking anywhere, but when we followed signs to the exit, they took us into a Parking Garage! The clearance was only 6 feet. I didn’t think we would fit with the tree, but my husband thought we would. We both forgot that the tree stand had one metal leg sticking straight up into the air.

As I drove slowly into the garage, I looked in the rear-view mirror and noticed the car behind me: the driver had a horrified look on his face as he pointed at my car. Then I heard a terrible scrape. The metal tree stand had encountered the concrete wall, and since neither of them would budge, it was dragging the Christmas tree against the roof of our van. All I could do was slowly back up and assess the damage. The back roof and door of the car were scratched. And we were still stuck going 1-way into a parking garage. Eventually, the car behind us let us out and we made some illegal turns to get to the exit. We decided Cheesecake Factory wasn’t worth it!

Final Misadventure: Getting home with the tree

At this point, we just wanted the adventure to be over before anything else horrible happened. But as I drove down the Freeway, I heard a tapping sound on the back window. The tree had shifted, and the metal tree stand was knocking against the glass. It could have broken at any moment! The way our day was going, I figured the back window was next. I crossed 3 lanes of traffic to pull over. I shifted the tree back into place and tightened the ropes. Finally, we drove the tree home.

Later, we discovered that our credit card number was stolen at the tree farm, and we had to get new credit cards right before Christmas. I’m not even kidding, people. This was a very bad day.

The next day, we were able to decorate the tree, without it bursting into flames or falling over. For now, I will call that a success. I hope that the rest of our Christmas season goes a lot more smoothly!

We decorated the tree without it bursting into flames. Success! Barely. Read the real story of our Christmas tree misadventure... Share on X

Free Christmas Tree from Trees for Troops

Our end result was a beautiful, patriotic Christmas tree. Looking at it, you would never know the adventures we had that day. So when you see beautiful pictures like this on social media, I hope you will never get jealous again. You never know the true story behind the finished product! Military life can be that way, too. Don’t judge someone based on Homecoming videos and wedding photo shoots. We all have good days and bad days. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we just admitted it and laughed about it together?

Have you had any misadventures this holiday season? Do you share them on social media?


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