Oh, Christmas Tree

In which our reluctant hero gets the decorators in.

“Holidays are coming…”
It’s not holidays, it’s blooming November!

Facebook – 28th November 2016

In the olden days, December 1st was a day like any other. Granted, it would probably be so cold in the house that you would bathe and sleep with your flat cap and long johns on. You may even have been considering chucking a second lump of coal on the fire if you were feeling particularly flush. But pretty much everything else in life remained the same.

Fast-forward to 21st century Blighty. December 1st. The latest date that you can hope to get to before tackling the mountain of plastic rubbish that used to be your attic floor to find the Christmas tree and decorations becomes a thing. Search and rescue. It’s a challenge, but your reward for success is that the earache may stop. For a bit. If you’re lucky.

So after safely depositing the little people at nursery and playgroup, my first December morning was spent knee deep in plastic getting things ready for them to “help” with the decorating after lunch.

If it were up to me the tree would be up on Christmas Eve and back in the attic on Boxing Day. December 1st seems just too early. There’s almost seven per cent of the year to get through before Christmas after all. But at least I’ve got an excuse. Children. The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The compression of the seasons means that everything gets that little bit earlier each year. Christmas cards in the shops by the end of September. Mince pies in the Co-op in October – which, ironically, means that they will have gone off by actual Christmas. I wandered through two light switch-ons in November. We’ve already done Christmas crafts at nursery. Badgers are bouncing on trampolines during every commercial break. The aroma of sprouts permeates the air as folk ensure that they’re cooked in time. Nick Jnr are showing Ben and Holly specials on repeat. We’ve sent letters and seen the “real” Father Christmas. In Wolverhampton of all places. No wonder the kids are confused. I too am wondering if it’s now socially acceptable to quaff a glass of sherry with my Weetabix of a morning. I suspect that it’s only a matter of time.

Back to the tree…

We are a helper down this year as mum has conveniently arranged a spa day with friends. Off sipping Prosecco while I slip on tinsel and shred my legs kneeling on shattered baubles. Which reminds me that I need to add a new pair of trousers to my list for Father Christmas.

I didn’t anticipate that the absence of helper three would be a hindrance, as the “help” normally involves sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee telling me that I have put everything in the wrong place. The children and cats may prove more problematic.

Doing the decorations is like demolishing blocks of flats. You know it’s going to be considerably quicker to take them down than put them up, and the only certainty is that there’s going to be debris everywhere for weeks. If we had a bigger house, I would put the tree away fully decorated come twelfth night and save myself all of the faff the following year.

Things started badly. Eric the Elf (don’t ask) had left Christmas jumpers for the children to change into after their mornings out. This caused a diplomatic incident, and about half an hour of tears, as our eldest took umbrage over her jumper not having a snowman on but a well known festive phrase instead. Ho, ho, ho…

Having eventually calmed things back down, we made a start on the decorating at the youngest’s nap time whereupon we quickly encountered problem two. The base of the tree had cracked and needed gluing. While it dried, we got on with setting up Gran’s knitted nativity scene and decorating the dining room, which were sort of done, then very quickly undone, shortly after the end of the nap.

Leaving the mess behind, we started on the main tree. The children were actually brilliant at this. Having emptied two suitcases worth of tinsel, lights, baubles and so on across the entire living room, they managed to hang at least one item off every branch. EVERY branch. The tree seemed to groan under the weight and I was a little concerned that the glue may not hold out. It looked fabulous though.

Tree done, and now bored, they headed to trash their bedrooms instead, leaving me to get downstairs finished and cleaned up. A cat appeared. Recalling the wrapping incident of a few years back, the cat was very quickly made to disappear again.

A couple of hours later and I was done. Or it was done. Or something. Tidy for Christmas. Yes, we’ll be reattaching baubles for the next month, the tree will almost certainly be felled at some point, Mary and Joseph will disappear and reappear somewhere upstairs on a daily basis, and if the lights don’t fuse at some point due to the constant switching on and off it’ll be a miracle. But that’s all part of the fun. Probably. Tidy-ish for Christmas.

To wrap things up, so to speak, mum had a most splendid idea to do with the children during Advent.

Having finished breakfast each day, they open the door on their calendars to find a little chocolate treat as usual. But this year they get to open the kitchen cupboard doors and pick an item to donate to the local food bank too.

Although it is absolutely scandalous that we need to do this in Britain in 2016, it’s good for the little people to learn that Christmas is not all about trees, presents, Rudolph and eating chocolate for breakfast, but a time for giving too. A small gesture that could make a difference.

And that’s it for another week. Now where did I put the Mint Matchmakers?




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