Right now I’m awaiting delivery of my second Christmas tree in a day. I feel a little bit tired (last night’s festivities), a little bit grubby and sore (injuries sustained from attempting to put up Christmas tree #1) and just a little bit grumpy because I’m tired, dirty, sore and have a lot of other things I should be doing right now. Instead I am venting my frustration by recording my current frustrations and remembering frustrations various of Christmas pasts.
Here is Christmas tree #1.
It shouldn’t look like this. It should be standing tall and proud and I should, right now, be bedecking it with the newly purchased box of lights.
Here is the newly purchased box of 160 perfectly formed white lights. The lights are still in the box because there’s something wrong with my tree.
Last year we had only seventeen working lights which made for a poor Christmas spirit in Casa Carmichael and a hazard in out hallway so I have bought a lovely new set but I cannot festoon my symbol of yule because Christmas tree #1 won’t stand up. Hence the step ladder.
This is not the first time the Carmichael clan has bought a dud. For a few years when the daughters were younger and vaguely interested in the tree purchase process as well as the presents beneath it Mr Carmichael would pluck a child to accompany him to Christmas Tree Farm in Amersham to choose the conifer, watch it being chopped down, packaged and tied to the roof of our car. They would then arrive home proudly with their booty, get the tree into the stand and I would dress it. Unfortunately I had to put a stop to this tradition the year it became me, thee or the tree.
This is what happened.
It was a Saturday and we were having friends for christmassy drinks and homemade nibbles. This wasn’t a big deal for the girls who weren’t invited or for Mr Carmichael who likes to rock up, booted and suited, to his own events a little bit late, when I have already had one or two glasses of bubbly and am therefore caring less about the minutiae of my soirée and more about my next glass of bubbly, am less prone to expect him to do/have done the things he promised to do when he invited the friends for drinks and handcrafted antipasti and have already decided that our home looks as good as it possibly can.
Not this time husband ‘o mine. Indeedy no. No, Siree.
This time he returned from the golf course at approximately minus 31 minutes to find his chosen, chopped, packed, transported and erected fir lying in the driveway where I had thrown it in a red mist not an hour previously. Why? Because it was a hideous travesty of a Christmas tree. A runt in all but size. A carbuncle on the Christmas spirit I wanted my home to exude that evening.
Not given to hyperbole in any other than uber-extenuating circumstances I shall indulge myself wantonly. This tree had bunions, bald spots, a right angled top and it did not stand up straight. It was hunched, crooked and lopsided in the extreme. I needed it to be out of my house that moment and I got it out. All by myself. I still bare a scar. And it was worth it even if my hall will never look quite the same again. I do believe that unadulterated rage can move mountains. A nine foot, wide spanned, non drop conifer was no match for yours truly and her fury that evening. The moment it was gone I felt so much better.
However I still needed a tree.
Cue Mr C.
“Someone’s dumped a tree in our drive,” he carolled on his return. “I’ve just run over it.”
He read my note. He could hardly miss it. I had scribed it on flip chart paper for assured unmissability and blue tacked it to the wall opposite the front door. It said, ‘ Do NOT talk to me. Go to the florists and buy another tree right now. Do NOT go the the Christmas Tree Farm. Make sure they deliver it immediately. Do NOT talk to me. Put the tree up. STRAIGHT. Move the what you call a tree out of the drive. Do NOT talk to me until I speak to you. Do NOT consider arguing as possible alternate action.’
At that point I ran out of paper and champagne so decamped to the bedroom to find an outfit capable of supporting me in ways Mr Carmichael could only dream of. To his credit he didn’t say a word, at least not to me.
They say necessity is the mother of invention but in truth I am. Well, me and a bottle of Bolly. I got friends to hang a decoration each on arrival.
“Great idea,” they chirruped while putting my baubles in the wrong places.
The winning charade team got to do a bulk hang. Ghastly. Somehow daughter #4’s school creation ended atop the tree. Horror. I mind packaged that one to sort on the morrow with sobriety’s return. Unfortunately, my youngest child saw it before I woke and woke me to report how thrilled she was that her hedgehog was on the top of our tree. What could I do, break her heart? I broke her heart. But we did make a Mrs Tiggy Winkle nativity scene (for her bedroom) instead. I am not utterly heartless.
It was the oddest tree Casa Carmichael has ever sported. Inside. Outside Mr Carmichael had his revenge. He put the excrescence in a tub and insisted it stayed in the middle of our drive unadorned, unloved, unappreciated and very in the way until all twelve days of christmas were counted down.
Fast forward to 2012 and I await the delivery of christmas tree #2. This time however as easily as his name trips of my tongue I cannot place the blame on Mr C’s reindeer jumpered shoulders. His Noël duties no longer include trees. This one’s down to me.
I sort of spotted Christmas tree #1’s skinny base when I chose my perfectly proportioned conifer but chose to ignore its pencil like girth because the important bits were so symmetrical. In hindsight this was a silly thing to do. With all the screws extended in the base our tree is free floating. No verticality to be seen.
I have rung the tree shop and explained that Christmas tree #1 is not fit for purpose. It is to be swapped out sometime this afternoon. I stress the urgency of the situation. The florist cannot give me a time because apparently this is the biggest Christmas tree delivery day of the year. No surprise there. So I wait and fidget and think of all the things I should be doing.
I pray that Christmas tree #2 turns up before Mr Carmichael wends his way home for a yuletide pre-prandial.
The alternative is unthinkable.