December is here, the advent calendars are open and Christmas is just around the corner. For some people this is a time of joy and excitement. My children, for example, are deliriously happy and excitable. I however, have momentarily lost my Christmas enthusiasm, because it’s also that time of year once more, when we not only have 5 people, a toys shop full of toys and all of the wet washing drying in the living room, but we will also incorporate a whacking great tree to our insanely overcrowded interior.
Every year, in our house, the arrival of the Christmas tree fills me with utter dread and frustration and this is only increasing the older I get! Don’t get me wrong, I love it when it’s up and all twinkly, but there is something about erecting the thing that irritates me more than an itchy Christmas jumper.
This year is especially fraught, because my husband (who is usually the voice of reason and creativity in this scenario), is also in a “bah humbug” mood! This could be interesting… So I thought ‘I know what I’ll do, I’ll write a blog about this special festive family time as it unfurls.’ Here I am, note book and pencil in hand…let’s put up the bloody tree.
Question number 1. Where on earth are we going to put it?
Outside would be my first choice, but apparently that’s not Christmassy enough. Bugger. Right, well then I will have to move furniture, we don’t need access to this cupboard, the DVD player and all this storage for the next four weeks, do we?
Hoover out, vacuum the floor, clear space, swear…a lot, until there is just about enough space for a stick in a pot. Only I can guarantee you that what my husband has bought home will be more the size of the tree in Trafalgar Square.
Question number 2. Where is the bloody stand?
Would that be the stand that’s buried in the back of the shed covered in cobwebs and dirt? Why yes, yes it would.
(By this point I am swearing more than Gordon Ramsay on a bad day! Fortunately the washing machine is ‘bleeping’ out my swears in the background because the washing has also finished its spin and needs hanging out to dry. Maybe I could hang it on the tree?) All three children and my husband have now vacated the house and are playing in the garden, away from the enraged lunatic who is running around the house.
Stand retrieved and cleaned and placed lovingly in the cavernous space I’ve created.
There is a knock at the door. Is it a heavily pregnant Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay? Is it the three wise men bringing me expensive gifts? No, it’s the Tesco delivery man bringing me a weeks’ worth of shopping and alcohol. I may be needing the latter very shortly.
Stop what I’m doing and put all the shopping away.
Question number 3. Where is the tree?
The children and husband have now ventured back indoors and husband reveals a tree that wouldn’t look out of place in a Norwegian forest. How on earth are we going to fit that in here?
Well, if we watch TV through the branches for the next month and we cut the top by about a foot, it might just fit in the gap…
We could of course, purchase an artificial tree. The sort that keeps its shape and always fits in the space. My grandad, (who is referred to as ‘Crazy Grandad’ by my children), keeps his tree fully decorated in the cupboard and lifts it ceremoniously downstairs every year. He plugs it in, and that’s it, Christmas is sorted! Sounds perfect! (See our Facebook page for a video clip of this years’ tree!)
But for me, that wouldn’t be the same. I love the smell of a real tree…apart from the year when we bought one that a cat had wee’d on. That year our home was filled with the heady aroma of Fabreeze and cat spray! Not quite so festive eh.
Question number 4. Where did I put all he decorations?
How? How does this happen every year? Climbing into the attic, I can see the sparkles of the decorations…buried beneath a year’s worth of trips to “just put this in the attic.” For the love of God, why am I so disorganised? Forming new piles of crap all over the attic, I eventually dig my way down to the boxes and drag them to safety, before carting them back down two flights of stairs, where the tree has now been placed in the stand and tied to the ceiling. Well done husband!
Question number 5. How did these bloody lights get tangled up AGAIN?
Upon opening the boxes I find that, very sensibly, I have wrapped the fairy lights around pieces of card securing one end with a little bit of sellotape. Smugly I grab the lights and think ‘easy peasy!’
Oh you foolish woman. These are Christmas lights. It wouldn’t matter if you glued them to a ruler, their mission in life is to become a tangled mess (much like you!)
Husband has chosen this very moment to do some Christmas internet shopping… in the middle of this chaos! What is the matter with him?! Upon seeing my face, he first takes a photo, and then untangles the lights that I’ve just thrown on the floor! How does he do that?
Question number 6. Why am I not enjoying this?
There was a time when I used to LOVE Christmas…I think it was between the ages of 1-17 years! But as life has moved on and Christmas has come to require more and more input from me, my own personal enjoyment of this festive time has dwindled somewhat. I now see Christmas more as a high maintenance friend who visits far too often! I propose that we change the arrangements and have celebrations only once every 4 years (like the Olympics), then we might all have had time to recover from the last one!
As I watch my children decorate the tree, and shove each other out the way and call each other names, my heart starts to melt a little. The spirit of Christmas may be returning to the Vaughan household. Bits of tinsel (yes, tinsel!) start to twinkle in the lights, all of the baubles are on the lower branches of the tree, there are handmade decorations my children have made and a fairy on the top, who looks like she’s had one too many festive Sherries.
That’s it. Done for another year. The tree is up! I open the fridge and pour myself a nice cold Christmas beer. Ahhhh, that’s better.
Merry Christmas everyone!