Trimming the Tree: Fantasy v Reality

This week’s column…

How I imagined the trimming of the tree before I had children:

 Husband would carry said tree into the house, children joyful and humming festive tunes behind him. We would be sporting Christmas jumpers, smiling beatifically at one another across the branches, congratulating ourselves on a splendid choice of festive foliage.

 We would pop the tree in a bucket, dear little children scampering around our ankles, passing us their tasteful, homemade decorations, whilst we exclaimed over their obvious talents for design and engineering.

 Once the tree was finished, we would stand back in admiration, arms around each other, perhaps crooning a verse or two of White Christmas, swaying gently. We would settle down to watch It’s A Wonderful Life, assorted pets at our ankles, and bowls of homemade, organic popcorn on our knees.


 Husband wrestles beast of tree through house, needles flying, whilst barking military-style orders at self and children, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY, GET OUT OF THE WAY’, on a loop.

 Tree is hoisted into its stand and, after being inspected for rogue wildlife (The Year of the Spider’s Nest has not been forgotten), I hold the trunk whilst husband secures it in place. He instructs me to let go. I do. Tree falls over. Repeat.

 Husband plus self are now red in the face, sweating, and fairy lights are in knots the likes of which a scout leader would be proud. The girls begin flinging their glittered-bog-roll-on-a-string efforts at the branches, and the dog prances past, tail high in the air, taking out as many decorations in one sweep as possible.

 Once decorations are in place, and I have surreptitiously moved each of the children’s to the back of the tree, the sheer girth of the beast becomes apparent. Husband wields kitchen scissors with a flourish and hacks the branches, thereby removing the necessity to punch our way past them each time we enter the room.

 Staggering back, we collapse onto the sofa, throwing all manner of processed snacks in the direction of the girls. We settle down to grit our teeth through the Cbeebies’ Panto, whilst trying hard to ignore the cats (half way up the tree), the dog (cocking a leg on it), and the steady sound of needles falling, signalling a tree that will be but a glorified stick festooned with lights by Christmas Day.  

 Or, you could be our neighbours, mentally scarred by their 7 footer collapsing on them during Sports Personality of the Year, 2012. ‘Tis the season to be jolly.


First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 17th December 2013.


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