Today the Christmas tree came down from the loft. A trifle dusty, a little more battered than last year but still, unmistakably, a Christmas tree.
I love to see the photos of my friends and family setting off for the Christmas Tree Forests, choosing their Perfectly Formed trees and carrying them triumphantly home ready for installation and decoration (in that order.) For
Mr B and I, however, our medium-sized artificial tree does the trick and costs us nothing. We bought it more than twenty years ago with the insurance pay-out from a minor house fire started by Our Boy when he burnt the toast one lunchtime and set the
cooker alight. I still remember the trying-not –to-sound-panicky phone call at work. “Hi there, Mum, we have had a little bit of trouble here. Like a, kind of, small, well, sort of – fire....”
Our “new for old” insurance policy paid out on a really rather expensive, but old, cooker and some redecoration so we bought a really rather inexpensive replacement cooker and splashed
the rest on the Christmas tree and some baubles. I think of the fire every time I put the tree up and thank the Lord that My Boy was unhurt and lived to cause more havoc in the household over the years to come.
The tree is packed in a long, cardboard box, secured with lashings of sellotape. Inside there is a metal stand, a stem, a top piece, and lots of branches which need to be fitted into the stem in a particular order. The branches
are all colour coded to ensure that whoever is erecting the tree (that’ll be me, then) knows which pieces fit where. Unfortunately, over the course of more than twenty years, the colours have either faded or completely disappeared from the ends
of the branches so I have to resort to trial and error. It takes me a bit longer to put the tree together and it may be that it is a trifle more lop-sided than I remember it - but, hey, it all adds character.
Next, the lights. I don’t know about you but I always feel that, if lucky enough to have a Man About the House, then this should be his job. I therefore call upon Mr B who had thought he had already done his bit
by clambering up into the loft to fetch down all the Christmas stuff. He knows better than to argue with a Woman Intent on Decorating the Christmas Tree.
year our Christmas tree lights gave up the ghost so we had a light-free tree which was not unattractive but wasn’t very bright. This year we set off to buy another set of simple white lights and somehow managed to come home with a set of ten “City
Skyline lamps”. The picture on the front of the box shows a variety of vaguely recognisable skylines like the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral. I think I must have been unduly swayed by the fact that they were half price. Having
taken them out of their box, in readiness for stringing on the tree, it is clear that we may just have made a mistake. For one thing, they are huge. Our tree, remember, is small. It seems likely that our tree will be somewhat overburdened
with city lights. Whatever made me think this would be a good idea?
Mr B is remarkably restrained and continues with the business of unravelling the lights
and finding a spare socket to plug them in. As he switches them on, we gape at each other, speechless. Our city skyline lights are not only on the large size but they change colour from red, to blue, to green. They are quite startlingly inappropriate
for our tree. I am beginning to understand why they were half-price...
We haven’t yet decided what to do about the whole lighting business. On
the one hand, our new lights may add even more character to our characterfull tree. On the other hand they will almost certainly look Way Over The Top. While we cogitate, the branches of the tree are all but bare of decoration because, as everybody knows,
the lights have to go on first before anything else. We have to make a decision before tomorrow afternoon when our Nomination Whist Group will be descending upon us for a Party Afternoon of mulled wine and sherry, mince pies and sausage rolls, Christmas
crackers and a few surprises. We just need to agree whether the city skylines will be one of those surprises. Or not.
For the moment the tree bears just
one decoration on the top-most branch. It it a star? I hear you ask. Or, perhaps, an angel? No, it’s a cardboard reindeer of great character, made for us by grandson Jack six years ago. It makes our tree a little bit different, I like to think.
Though not quite as different as it will be if festooned with City Skyline Lamps.