Putting up the Christmas tree
I dread it. I really do. Ever since the children became old enough to “help”, this stopped being a pleasure undertaken with a glass of mulled wine and Bing Crosby on the stereo and became a challenge in which I try very hard not to shout (unless I do it in secret when the children are in bed, but that kind of defeats the purpose, no?).
The rigmarole starts, in about November, with the nagging: “When can we put up the Christmas tree? When? When?”
And, when I finally agree to do it, the excitement is unbearable. The children rip open the boxes of baubles, reacquainting themselves with last year’s decorations while I try to stop the decorations, some of which are precious and some homemade by the hands of babes, from being smashed and tangled and the boxes from being squashed.
Then the tree comes out. We have an artificial tree, the branches of which have to be slotted into place starting at row A and working up to row G. DD is keen to help. But, by the time we’re at row C, she declares that her arms ache and she’s bored. DS lies down in the Christmas-tree box and asks me to close the lid. They both want a snack.
My arms ache, my back aches and I’m bored, too, but someone’s got to do it, so I soldier on while they chomp gingerbread men and ask when they can start putting on the baubles.
Next come the lights and blow me down if the naughty lighting fairy hasn’t tangled the lights I put away so carefully last January into a spaghetti junction of a mess that takes at least half an hour to detangle, while I try simultaneously to stop DS from jumping on the tiny bulbs.
I get the lights up – two sets. They work. By now I’m sweating.
“What colour scheme shall we go for this year?” I ask the children, surveying our massive collection of decorations. “Purple and silver? Cream and gold? Gold and silver? African? Homemade?”
“Let’s go for multicolour,” says DD. “That means we just put everything on.”
And they do – with no sense of balance or aesthetic. But I guess that’s the point. While my children are small, I have to kiss goodbye to any concept of a chic tree. If you come over this season, just look the other way. And don’t ask if I’ve fostered a six-armed, colour-blind gnome.
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