My name is Ekaterina Bezhevets and I am a production manager at American Christmas, but I started here as a decorator. Here are my memories from my early days with the company.
My alarm rings at 5AM. It just as well could have been midday, or 8PM, on any weekday or holiday. That is because I am a decorator. Today I have three locations on my schedule. I could have gotten 5, or 7, or 10 of them. Everything is fast-paced: 2 hours to get to the warehouse, meet the team for the first location, get directions and a truck, grab a cup of coffee, and be on the way to NJ for 300 feet of garland installed in a crowded passenger port. What follows is a lot of moving, assembling, hanging, shaping, some shouting, and a good bit of laughing. Then I have 2 hours to get to Manhattan, grab a quick bite and fly off to Radio City Music Hall. There I will assemble 15,000 crystals into a giant, magnificent Christmas tree: it is all about patience, precision and attention to detail. And finally it is 1 hour of traffic jams (even though the destination is just a couple of blocks away) and a 14-foot wide wreath that we will unload, assemble and hang using just 2 lifts and 4 feet of available space. It is all about strength, prowess, and some more strength.
I guess the first thing I think of when people ask me “what’s it like to be a decorator” is the challenge of the job. It is everywhere: today it is finding a cut wire in an installation piece, the next day it is a flat tire or the simple inability to find a parking space and the day after that it might be something else. Another thing I remember is all those fantastic places I visited: I find myself admiring the New York sunrise from the 30th floor of “The View” restaurant, listening to the tide on the Atlantic City beach at 3AM, looking at breathtaking landscapes of upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut through the truck window. But the most important and exciting part of being a decorator is team play. People who are by your side during this crazy journey become your family. They stay with you through all of the challenges, making an incredible effort to get the job done and cheering you up when you need it. That is what truly is phenomenal: despite the lack of sleep and the insane hours, despite non-stop movement and the extreme flood of work merging into one endless day, we always stay positive. You know why? Because it is 200% worth it. All the sleepless nights, all the people and places that flash by, all the daunting tasks and strains you have to endure. Whether it is unloading the truck for three hours, or standing knee-deep in dust and glitter. Whether it is working indoors in 100-degree heat, or working outside in the pouring rain, chilled to the bone. The atmosphere on location has that awesome holiday taste. Because after everything you take a quick step back and look at the results. You look at the giant lit trees, shimmering crystal garlands, bright multicolored lights, dazzling displays or magnificent sculptures. I often times think: “Did we actually do this? Did I?” People passing by take pictures, stupefied, their faces lit up with amazement, and so is mine. The air is filled with delight. And that gives me the strength to go on.