My Mum works like a Trojan. She’s a nurse, you see. Her work just never seems to be done. Hence why she sadly hasn’t had time to put up the family Christmas tree.
So this responsibility fell to me instead. She asked me to do it. And seeing as I’ve been trying so hard to suppress the urge of buying a tree for myself and Oliver, this seemed like the perfect activity to channel all my I-desperately-want-a-Christmas-tree energy into.
I started the task off properly with a hot chocolate in a Father Christmas mug; it seems only logical. And between sips and the unfolding artificial branches, I set about erecting (oooh errr) the tree.
And as much as I’ve wanted my own Christmas tree this year, it’s not as if I have any first hand experience of actually putting one up. (My family opt for the artificial tree, not so much to benefit the environment but to reduce the amount of December related, living room vacuuming that needs to take place. Although having said that, a lot of vacuuming was required once the tree was assembled; it turns out that artificial trees do in fact shed needles if you pull and bend the branches around enough).
Putting the tree together, involved colour coding the ends of the branches and lots of tweaking but it was nothing compared to the stress of twinning the lights around it.
Good grief, that was tough.
I thought it would be easy, having only ever done it on a miniature tree. But it was anything but. The wire kept getting caught on the wrong branches and I got dizzier and dizzier as I went around the tree. At one point, I had to sit down to steady myself.
I got in a bit of a tangle to say the least. Here is some photo evidence.
It looks like I’m wearing a rather jazzy crown of thorns. It was an exasperating experience.
But eventually, I won the battle with the lights and not only was the tree standing but it was glittering also. Sparkling in fact, with multi-coloured and warm white lights.
Then it was the turn of the dreaded beads. My Mum loves her red and gold beads. So stringing them across the branches was my next challenge.
And I’m not sure which was more fun; the beads or the lights. But I did the very best that I could, especially considering the fact that I was exceptionally dizzy after all this draping things around trees business.
Once the foundation of the tree was laid, it was time for the very best part. The ornament placing aka the decorating. This was the bit that I was always given to do, most probably because my mum was suffering from extreme dizziness after having wrapped all the beads and lights and the best part of herself around the tree.
But I know how to hang baubles and little knik knacks from a tree. I know all about distributing them as evenly as you can. I love rifling through all the decorations that my family have accumulated over the years, from the many Christmases before this one that we’re on the cusp of celebrating.
In fact, that is one of my favourite part of Christmas. The rummaging through the big box of decorations that my Dad has just retrieved from the loft. I love sitting on the living room carpet, cross-legged, bits of artificial tree fluff all around me as I dive into the box of ornaments and reminisce about what each one means; remembering where we got it from.
So this afternoon, I picked out the very best of our vast crop and set about hanging them in an organised but random way; the correct way to decorate a Christmas tree. And they looked a little bit like this when they were all swinging from the tree.
And I was rather pleased with my hard work. I really cannot iterate enough, how very tiring it is decorating a tree single-handed. I take my hat off to my Mum for all the many years that she has done just that.
So there you have it, my afternoon spent slurping hot chocolate, decorating my family tree and watching Gilmore Girls all at the same time.
There’s something really special and unique about Christmas trees. Ours is eclectic and traditional all at the same time. It’s skinnier than I would like and maybe a real tree would be just that bit less gappy and well, more real looking I guess.
But I still love it, despite all this. I love my Dad’s age-old, homemade tin foil star that has sat on the top of our tree – the crowning glory – for as long as I’ve been alive. I love the beads – even if they’re not to my taste – because they remind me of my Mum and they are synonymous with Christmas for me.
But most of all this tree reminds me that I get to spend this special time of year with the people I love most in the world. And that come the 25th, we’ll all be sat in this room that’s just a bit too small for the eight of us, giving each other presents; little tokens of our love for one another. Laughing, smiling and wading our through a sea of wrapping paper, sipping Malibu and Coke, stuffing our faces with my Mum’s legendary trifle, even though we’re still so full from my Dad’s legendary Christmas Dinner.
I simply cannot wait.