The Christmas tree is up.
I put it up on Monday 30th November this year.
For those of you who say ‘Argh! Too soon!’ I would explain – in December, when things are busy with work and other commitments (which they are), our Christmas Tree gives me a place of stillness.
I also justify it by saying it was officially the first Sunday of Advent on November 29th.
But mainly it’s because I like it; because putting it up and decorating it takes my mind off all the other stuff of life, and otherwise it would get crammed in later and I wouldn’t enjoy it so much – both the ‘putting up’ and the ‘having it there’ in the next few weeks when I need a few twinkly lights to help my sanity.
We all have our ‘things’ which help us, don’t we?
Even if they are just having the Christmas tree up.
This particular Christmas tree is a fake one. Yes, there will be those of you who say ‘Argh! Not real!’, but we need it to be simple, and I’m actually allergic to conifer-type things these days. It settles down once the tree’s been in a while, but the first couple of days, when it’s fresh, I’m streaming and itching and…ugh. And I wouldn’t be able to touch it without breaking out in a rash, and I wouldn’t get to do my beloved-Christmas-tree-decorating-therapy.
I think that’s a good reason.
This tree cost me £2. It was on sale at the charity shop where I was volunteering 11 years ago, priced at £4. It was our first year of marriage; we hadn’t got any kind of tree and the season was busy, so I thought, well, let’s get a temporary tree, shall we? The Manager gave it to me for £2 and threw in some lights they weren’t allowed to sell. They were coloured lights, instead of my prefered white, but they would be fine for a temporary measure.
I carried the box all the way home. ‘It’s not that heavy,’ I assured the Manager when she expressed concern. But it was longer than my arm span. Very awkward. I carried /dragged/pushed the box all the way to our temporary house (we were only there for six months) and managed to have the tree up with lights on, if not decorations, for when my husband came home. Surprise!
I know we’ll get a bigger and better one eventually, but this is fine for now, isn’t it?
The lights did get replaced. The tree, however, didn’t. Every year I regale some poor soul with the Tale of our Temporary Tree. Every year I add a bit of gaffer tape in various places to stop it wobbling – although strangely it needs less than it used to (how does that work?). Every year I wish it could be an extra foot.
And then, I put it up. And I think – ahhh. And we stare at those pricey trees and prod at them and think: they’re really not that nice. The branches are wrong, they’re not this, they’re not that. They’re just not right.
And sometimes it’s nice being slightly taller than my tree. I have achy neck and shoulders and well, everything, these days. (I couldn’t drag a tree up a hill again.) If I had a tall tree, it would cause me pain and I would get frustrated and depressed, as I do when I hang out washing or anything requires holding up my arms for long periods.
And so there we have it – Our Temporary Tree has become a Tradition.
Maybe one year we will find its replacement; I’ve no idea how old it is because it was second hand when we got it. It tells me it’s supposed to be a Snowdon Pine on the box.
It even sheds a bit, just to be realistic. One day the branches may get too thin and spindly, one day the stand might snap, one day the gaffer tape won’t be enough. One day the tradition might give way, to something else, and something new will be there instead.
But not yet; not today.
What traditions have you got that came out of ‘temporary measures’?