When I was little getting the annual Christmas Tree was one of my favourite traditions of the year. I loved going out with mum and my sisters to find the perfect tree with a good shape and the right amount of bushiness. When we got home we’d all scramble around the backyard for rocks to hold it upright in the bucket and then it was time to decorate! I don’t remember mum buying many decorations over the years, but we always seemed to have a huge amount to go on the tree. Baubles (eventually) dished out fairly amongst the three sisters, tinsel arranged, and it was time to turn on the lights. Satisfied with our work, we'd compliment each other on how pretty it looked before collapsing on the sofa for a well earned piece of Christmas cake.
I’m now in the position of making this happy little tradition a reality for my own two kids. And boy, do they love Christmas Trees. Their enthusiasm for Christmas Trees borders on unhealthy. The funny thing is, when you’re the mum, rather than the kid, you start to see that getting a Christmas Tree can be a wee bit stressful. With the perspective of a mother I’m starting to recall the other bits – the not so great parts that your brain conveniently forgets over time and replaces with The Cosby Show version of how it went down.
Like the fact that mum was always a bit strung out by the time it was the day to get The Tree. Oh mum, I know the feeling. My kids have been asking me about Christmas since September. When I simply could not hear ‘Mum, when can we get a Christmas Tree?’any longer I stupidly told Jemima we’d get one last Saturday. Rookie mistake. Turns out it’s kind of hard to find a tree when it’s still NOVEMBER!
Then there’s erecting the tree. Last year, as I was skewered alive under a blanket of pine
branches needles while holding the trunk (‘Left.... no right a bit... no left... yep, yep.. now forward. Not that forward!!’) a familiar sensation washed over me. I remembered from my childhood the oddly shaped grey rocks that we jammed into the bucket to make our tree stand upright and when they didn’t work – the concrete bricks. The banged up fingers that happened in the process. I remember everyone getting a bit exasperated with holding the tree in place. They don’t call them needles for nothing.
Another thing you don’t realise as a kid – they cost money. Quite a lot of it as it turns out.
And then there’s the Real vs. Fake debate. When I was a kid I swore I would never, ever, have a fake Christmas Tree. I thought they were the ugliest things I’d ever seen. They broke our tradition of finding the perfect one. And what about the smell?
I still like a real tree. But I’m also realistic. We have two people in our family with hay fever. And when it’s a contest between $60 and an hour trip vs. $25 and a quick drive to the shopping centre I’m afraid Kmart wins.
Jeremy was concerned that a fake tree wouldn’t be the same for the kids. Jemima didn’t mind what we bought. She just wanted something to hang tinsel on. It could have been a broom for all she cared. She had it in her head that we were getting a tree, and she wasn’t going to let it go until something coated in plastic balls and sparkly fringing was standing in our living room. When we went out to look in some shops she was so obsessed with the idea of getting a tree that she suggested stopping a stranger in the street to ask them if they had any.
I thought we had it all sorted but then as we got in the car to buy our ‘plastic’ tree Ben started to get upset. Apparently he does care. He wanted a real tree. He said he would even have a small one if it meant it could be real. I should have known. You can be guaranteed that if one kid agrees on something, the other one wants the opposite. It’s kind of a parenting rule.
Ben was outvoted and this year it's fake tree for us. It looks OK. It’s not as beautiful as a real one, and it doesn’t have the smell of course, but really, it’s so covered with sparkly stuff that you can’t see what’s underneath anyway.