Tag Archives: Christmas trees

Christmas Countdown

‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me……………………..’

Stop singing. I begin with an apology. And shout out to all those Crimble songsters in the blogosphere who prefer your annual sing-along neat, pure and minimalist. Nothing in Casa Carmichael is that way – no ends, buts or peut etres and for that I can do nothing but say ‘sorry’.

It has dawned on yours truly that the longer I procrastinate in tapping this post the less I need write. But I have dallied long enough and there are now fewer than two fistfuls of days until the big one.  So, on with the show.

Eight:  On the eighth day before Christmas the paucity of merry christmas/happy new year cards gracing the Carmichael shelves cannot be ignored. If we remove the local curry house’s salutation along with a festively decorated offering from one of the local primary schools that has used on- tap child labour to deliver a missive announcing their Key Stage Two results to the hood, we have eight. Eight matches the days until we eat turkey and cranberry sauce but, in card stakes, is not very many is it?

I blame myself. About a decade ago I lost my address book. It had been a wedding present, was leather bound and contained much information. I know it would be worth money were I famous. But I’m not and its leaving passed with but a whimper. Before it left it fell to pieces, slowly but with menace. The M’s stopped receiving Carmichael cards first, followed the next year by the V’s. Being a solo, the V’s hardly counted but before December of the following year my address book was no more.

The guilt I felt at being unable to send cards that year was huge. The next, I’ll admit to a twinge and now I don’t even think about it. Is that terrible? Or is it a good thing?

There was a hiatus of four or five years when cards still poured in to us – perfect but slowly, oh so slowly my deleterious behaviour has been noted and now in 2014 we have a paltry eight cards on the 19th of December. It’s almost embarrassing to put them up. But I am made of sterner stuff. I have spread them wide and thin. Those who faithfully wish us well deserve to be honoured. Thank you and merry christmas to all.

merry christmas to all (mrscarmichael)
merry christmas my lovelies

Seven: episodes of Missing to watch, all backed up on my Sky Planner. My task (and yes, I have chosen to accept it) is to finish them by Christmas Day. For two reasons. Firstly, it’s a worthy thing to do and I can hide away whilst doing it. Secondly we are cancelling our Sky contract (finally Mr C is getting his way – call it an early present) and installing Virgin. All current recording will vanish.

Six: we are for Christmas this year which means I have enough matching plates, champagne glasses, wine glasses, themed napkins (linen), and a table large enough to seat us all without taking turns. The Carmichaels are not so good at taking turns so this is a good thing. I am excited not to have the hired table and chairs in my living room ’till mid-January this time round. Another good thing.

Five: presents to buy. Things are going extraordinarily well. It’s worrying. I think I am in control of present acquisition. Many are even wrapped. Of course, Mr Carmichael has not got out of park yet. That is always a moment to marvel at. If history repeats the hurricane that is my husband’s pressy purchasing begins on Christmas Eve – after lunch, just as the sun goes down.

“What would you like for Christmas?” he asks from his cell phone, as he stands in a shopping mall, at gone 4.30pm.

Perhaps this year will be different. I’ll let you know.

Four: desserts to try. This year we are going off piste and will not be enjoying Daughter #1’s white chocolate cheesecake. Although delicious we want a change and she wants to cook the brussel sprouts instead. Nor will we not be enjoying my SIL’s triffle on steroids. H…… understands. And is consigned to christmas crackers and all things cheese. It’s for the best and therefore a good thing. You can trust me on that one.

Three/Two: strings of christmas tree lights/two trees. ‘Why three? Why two?’ you ask and it is a most reasonable question. This is why.

the boy's first christmas (mrscarmichael)
the boy beneath the boughs (mrscarmichael)

As good as puppy Lyle is on his perambulations he is not a good boy within Casa Carmichael’s four walls. His adult teeth like to chew. They like to chew glasses, cases for glasses, pens, biros, magazines, mail, money (yes, money!), newspapers, sticks, concrete, toys and socks. Extrapolating from this heady compilation, we can assume that trees, decorations and presents might also be delicious to a ten month old Cockapoo.

My suggestion was that we got a small tree this year to sit atop a table (see above) that he could admire from afar. That suggestion did not go down well. One thing Carmichael pere and enfants adore is tradition. There was a fight. I said I was doing the small tree anyway. So I buy a small box of lights. I test the lights. They work. I put them on the tree. The rest (re another tree), I said, was up to them. Ha!

Days later and with a guilty heart, I chose and purchased a second tree. I have to admit it’s a stunner.

christmas tree numero dos (mrscarmichael)
christmas tree numero dos (mrscarmichael)

Please, it you have a moment read what happens in CC, when tree picking goes wrong. Here it is, you have my permission to feel smug (Me, Thee or the Tree).

Oh, and there, within that post are lights numero 1 – hmmm. Note to self, ring trading standards when a moment frees up. But wait, I’m jumping ahead of myself.

“This year, “I tell Daughter #2, “you can do the lights as well as the decorations.”

“I don’t want to do the lights,” she replies.

“Nor do I,” I retort. “In fact I don’t even want the tree.” Bah humbug.

There is a stalemate and we agree to do the lights together once she rises from her bed. I have lunch while I wait.

“Test the lights,” I tell her. “We don’t want to waste hours only to find they don’t work.”

“They work,” she shouts and we spend the next good while getting scratched but doing a good job, light-wise.

That done, I retire, excited to get on with my day. Her scream halts me on the stairs. “The lights don’t work,” she cries.

I turn to see the top third of the tree lit, the bottom two thirds shrouded in blackness. I get very cross. She gets crosser. Mr Carmichael joins in with the crossing. It’s all very noisy. I leave the house. It’s the most positive thing I can contribute to the moment.

Mr C buys another box of lights. We now have 50 spare christmas bulbs. Is that a good thing? Hmmm.

2014 – the year of three sets of lights and two trees. Lyle is in heaven. He is not in the living room unless accompanied.

One: It’s Lyle’s first Christmas. What a good thing that is.

what's santa brought you, Lyle? (mrscarmichael)
what’s santa brought you, Lyle? (mrscarmichael)





Christmas Dress Code, A Festive Saga (Part the First)

candy kitsch (mrscarmichael)
candy kitsch (mrscarmichael)

It’s Christmas time again. We must deck the halls, dress the tree, hang the wreath and spend, spend, spend in true Carmichaely fashion. We must eat, drink and be merry.

A number of the above are done (tree, wreath), are partially done (halls) are in the process of being done (halls), are ongoing (eating, drinking, merriment) and some haven’t been started (the spending). That is if we don’t count the broken microwave and dishwasher (and in real time Daughter #2’s unbacked up dissertation PC) that need replacing pre festivities and Casa Carmichael filling up.

bare middrift unacceptable (mrscarmichael)
bare middrift unacceptable (mrscarmichael)

The tree was not without incident but the choosing, up-putting and decoration went without hitch. As opposed to previous Carmichael Christmases (see footnotes).

The lighting was somewhat problematic, injurious and argument inducing. And had to be spread over two days.

My dreams last night were peppered with broken lightbulbs, elves and crumbly pine cones. My sleep restless.

However and with only a brief frisson of fight, Mr C charged to the rescue and sorted the illuminations. Thank you Baby Jesus. I really didn’t want to throw more coinage at the outage.

the tree is dressed (mrscarmichael)
the tree is dressed (mrscarmichael)

We are, this year, voyaging into unchartered waters vis a vis Christmas stockings. I, Mrs Carmichael, have put my delicately shod metaphorical foot down and instigated a new plan. The micro stocking.

Yes, of course I have had to sweeten the pill. Three MAC makeup products per micro fishnet. Not cheap but nor is the shit I end up stuffing into the oversized originals.

There have been stipulations. On both sides.

“I get to choose the three,” says Daughter #1.

“Yes, within reason,” say I realising that MAC will have some top ‘o the range bank breaking offering which cannot be countenanced. Especially when one takes into account the cost of microwaves, dishwashers and Apple PC’s.

“I still want a chocolate orange,” texts Daughter #2. “I can’t wait from breakfast to dinner without sweet stuff.”

“We can have a shared Christmas candy basket,” I offer knowing they’ll have to be fleet of hand and foot to beat my husband to its contents.

“Can I have a micro pig in my micro stocking?” asks Daughter #3.


“I don’t wear makeup,” declares Daughter #4. “I want a proper stocking.”

“Ok,” I concede, kindness personified.

New rules established I’m sorta’ (and somewhat oddly) looking forward to the week ahead and the shopping therein.

Now I just have to source those micro stockings whilst steering clear of the diamante encrusted offerings.


A) Yes, Victoria I know my bow is not as good as your bow…………


B) Compulsory reading for the full sensurround Carmichael Crimble Experience.

Carmichael Christmas tree disasters – Me, Thee or the Tree

A must read for all those lucky enough to avoid enduring my tree raising last year and memories of Xmas past.

Complete Carmichael Christmas tree  – And Here it is…..Casa Carmichael’s Christmas Tree #2

Carmichael Christmas stockings – It’s a New Look for the Carmichael 2012 Christmas Stocking

And Here it is…..Casa Carmichael’s Christmas Tree #2

Phew, we made it and are now rejoicing in the uprightness, the 160 working lights, the decorations and the symmetry of our 2012 edition – Christmas tree #2.

For those who suffered with me on the long and winding road that was Me, Thee or the Tree I felt you deserved a happy ending, a metaphorical egg nog, gluhwein or vin chaud and a photo of the finished article. No step ladder to be seen.

Of course it will look more Christmassy when there are presents underneath but its baby steps and only the 10th of December. Already? The 10th December, how did that happen?

awaiting gifts (mrscarmichael)
no tilt tree awaiting gifts (mrscarmichael)

Merry Christmas, y’all. I’ve got some shopping to do.

Me, Thee or the Tree

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 wasn't supposed to be this way (mrscarmichael)
it wasn’t supposed to be this way (mrscarmichael)

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.

light up my life (mrscarmichael)
light up my life (mrscarmichael)

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.