Strap her up and away we go. The reality of getting and putting up the Christmas tree when you have kids.
“Only 200 more sleeps ‘til we get our tree,” I remember my daughter sighing gently as the sun split the stones halfway through the year. Because as exciting as Santa is, and despite as brilliant as it is to get piles of toys, there is something a little extra magic about the getting of the tree.
Last year we discovered a wonderful Christmas tree farm near where we live, where you can go, pick your tree, chainsaw it down and bring it home. We did it again this year. After running between trees shouting, this one, no this one for an hour, excitement reached fever pitch as we rolled our way back down the mountain at 2o miles an hour, the chosen one perched shakily on the roof of the car.
Three arguments later, two involving rope, one involving a scratched landing wall, she was in and she was a beauty. We shimmied her into place, a corner of the room that seemed instantly made for this shapely conifer. And then all hell broke loose.
Visions of Christmas carols and taking turns to place the baubles lovingly on the tree were replaced with an almighty row about which of the children would put the angel on the top. “He did it last year! Did not! Did too!” And so we did what we always do, we gave it to our favourite child.
(Only joking, we can’t say that.)
Let there be light
Next, we discovered the lights didn’t work and Jesus himself wouldn’t have been able to untangle this unholy knot in the multi-colored twinkle set. The children prayed. A short trip to Woodies later, we stood back to appraise the position of our lights as it slowly tipped over onto its side, drunkenly. And, like the leaning tower of Pisa, there was not much we could do about it. A book was wedged underneath and we agreed it would Have To Do.
A short interruption later (we had to eat the pine-needle soup our daughter had made us on her toy kitchen) and it was time to Christmasify our poor fir.
The parents placed the fancy decorations first. Up high. The ones we picked out before we had children — when we used to ‘theme’ our Christmases. Dusty Pink and Black. Rose Gold and Forest Green. Silver and Royal Blue.
Now, our themes are Paper Robin and Santa-with-one-Leg, Glitter Everything with Soft Touches of Tat and You Can Never Have Enough Tinsel.
In a rare fit of genius, my husband indicates I’ve to take the children out of the room. I feign a lost earring that needs help finding (everything is an adventure with this gang) and when we come back in… Ta-dah! The angel has flown onto the top of the tree BY HERSELF.
Much cheering later, we crack open a selection box and that’s when we find our true family Christmas peace and harmony. Youngest loves the Fudge, I’m a Flake kind of girl, husband predictably goes for the plain Dairy Milk and the others go splits on Maltesers and Curly-Wurly. This is why we were meant to be together. There is silence as we chomp our chocolate, looking appreciatively at our creation. Best. Tree. Ever. We all agree happily. Just like we do every single year.
Photography by Unsplash.