1PM; The raw ingredients are promising; eight strings of lights (put away super carefully last year), Christmas music playing, three willing tweens, two hooked walking sticks and a 14 foot tree from St Clere woodland.
2PM; I’m on my own, I’ve sent the tweens away for their own safety and so they don’t see the major flaws in my character which are emerging. The first of the eight strings of light have finally been untangled, all thirty metres, and approximately half of the bulbs are not working as this is the fourteenth year we’ve used them. I’ve walked around the tree, up and down the stairs throwing the string of lights at the tree and flicking them into better positions with my walking sticks, trying not to fall over the bannisters. When I return to the hall, it’s almost impossible to see any of the lights. I can’t see how we can come back from this, options zoom around my head; cancelling Christmas and having a tree without any decorations at all are two of the strong contenders. It is going to be a disastrous Christmas.
3PM; Help arrives in the form of my husband. I point out that the bottom metre of the tree, the section of the tree we can all see, seems to be dead and almost bare, and the remainder has limbs that stick straight up rather than out and it is not really christmas-tree-shaped. I sit on the stairs and start developing my thoughts in a macro way, as I always do in truly stressful situations. My husband also does what he always does in stressful situations; gets his branch loppers.
3.30PM; My macro thinking is done. It’s the same old problems we always have at St Clere. Everything is ridiculously big and hard to handle. It’s unclear who I’m doing this for, and whether the cost-benefit analysis would come out on the right side. The old stuff we have isn’t really fit for purpose and none of it is exactly to my taste but there is no way I can justify the cost of starting from scratch with shiny new stuff.
4PM; My husband’s lopping is done. The tree looks a little less dead at the bottom, quite a lot barer, but definitely more tree-shaped. There is a second string of lights on the tree which are at least partially visible. As yet there are no decorations. We agree that the next step is a mince pie leaning on the Aga; tomorrow is another day.
9AM; After breakfast the whole family hits the tree. Within half an hour the tree is groaning with baubles from through the ages. I can’t really work out what sort of magic fairy dust was sprinkled overnight but the tree looks as splendid as ever. It’s going to be a lovely Christmas.