Every year I rupture or strain something by lugging a tree in and out of my house — we buy baby spruces, pot them, nurture (ignore) them all year, and then bring the living tree into the house for a week or two each Christmas before hauling the thing out again to live (slowly die) in our garden. It’s organic.
This year, our old tree looked a bit bald so we planted it out and sashayed off to the local tree-shop-place to buy a new one, and we found a gorgeous blue spruce. Spruce made our car smell of… spruce. (Cue lots of happy sniffing.) Spruce was duly potted and hauled into the house, bringing with it woodlice, earwigs and the scent of fresh earth. Nice. (We like earth. We are mucky people.)
But two days later, Spruce dropped a shed-load of needles. They lay in spiteful drifts, attaching themselves to socks and finding their way to our beds. This has never happened to us before: live trees tend to survive intact. I watered it with a generosity born of panic and when, a couple of seconds later, my feet started to squelch, I realised that Spruce’s bucket had split. Cue me hugging the tree (what prickly hell?) and popping vertebrae while I tried to salvage the laminate floor (like water it does not). Needles, mud, water, baubles flying, a child’s finger trapped between buckets (retrieved intact), and shouts of “Too heavyyyy!” Damn me if we didn’t break another bucket and strain ligaments in the process.
Then the root ball came loose and the whole tree fell over. It was like something out of ELF. The kids started to wibble.
I shoved it back, plonked the kids on the sofa with blankets, mince pies and crisps, and we watched ELF. Then I put them to bed and hoovered more pine needles than I knew existed (how come it’s still green?)
Close up, our once beautiful tree now looks a bit monstrous. Aside from kid levels of tinsel and weird angels (Scary Angel is back), there are now some new horrors. Like, where is the snowman’s other eye? Not to mention the broken glass and mud.
But from a distance, it looks sort of OK. At least it’s still recognisable as a tree, and at least it now has water. The kids won’t mind. Most of the adults will be too polite to comment. Those that do will probably still love us anyway.
But what’s really great is, it’s still alive. In the battle of 2016 vs. tree, the TREE’S STILL WINNING. There’s a decent chance that once this year is over, the little tree can go out into the forest and reach for the sky. I’ll hug it as many times as I need to, to make that happen.
And our house smells lovely.
Merry Christmas, everyone.