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The Christmas Do-Over

I have a bad mom confession: I redecorate our Christmas tree after the kids hang ornaments on it.

I know this goes against the sharing and caring spirit of holiday tradition, and that it violates all kinds of rules about effective parenting and the importance of allowing your children to express themselves. Screw that.

I see too many decorations clustered in one spot on the tree or a breakable, sentimental ornament hanging precariously close to the end of a branch or a gaping bare spot, and I don't hold back. My God, my kids are so careless in their tree trimming responsibilities that they even manage to hang some ornaments backwards. Someone has to control the situation. If I have to look at this blinking dead stalk shedding needles in my living room for the next three weeks, please let me have some say in the matter.

I used to wait until the kids were nestled all snug in their beds. Now I don't even bother to be sly; I auto-correct right in front of their little, upturned faces. It's become a family joke.

I do not feel guilty about this because, in addition to their carelessness, my kids still have a problem with hanging ornaments only at their eye level. If I didn't enforce my high tree trimming standards every year, our Christmas tree would look like the victims of that fake Miami Gardens plastic surgeon who injected concrete in women's butts: All normal up top, but crazy misshapen on the bottom. Who wants a Christmas tree that looks like it's received a Miami buttock injection?

I know this makes me sound like a control freak. I know one day my kids may resent it.

I also know that I'm not the only mom who does this because the other day I overheard a co-worker confessing on the other side of my cubicle that she re-hangs her kids' Christmas ornaments, too. Christmas Do-Over Moms Unite!

It's not like my family has a department store-style, Martha Stewart Christmas tree with matching ornaments and a theme. We have plenty of mismatched, kid-produced decorations and souvenirs from across the years that always stir up fond memories.

I just like to have them scattered in a balanced, cohesive fashion.

"You'd make a horrible art teacher," my husband says.

Every year, I vow to hold back and stop myself from readjusting. But Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, it's so hard to turn over a new leaf when my leaves are so unchanging.

Do I need to chill? Or is it my right as a mom to reign supreme over the family's eight-foot fir tree?

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