Yesterday we finally succumbed to juvenile pressure and put up the Christmas tree.
The tree in question is one got last year from a farm where you go and wander round a conifer forest the size of Scotland, choose the tree you want and dig it up. In theory this sounded wonderfully wholesome and festive, but the cracks soon began to show: five people tramping around a forest in the freezing cold, trying to agree on one tree out of thousands was not a recipe for family harmony. If anyone reading this ever finds themselves embarking upon a similar epic quest, please take this advice: Just don't.
Anyway, several hours, three cases of hypothermia, one broken spade and a pending divorce later we finally got The Beast home and realised that a tree that looks small in a forest full of towering pines is actually GINORMOUS once placed in an average sized, low-ceilinged sitting room. (Every year I slip into complete and happy denial about the modest proportions of our house, and confidently select a tree clearly only suitable for the drawing room at Sandringham) However, after a bit of strategic pruning (and a glass or two of sherry) it didn't look too bad.
So, after Christmas-- with the trauma still fresh in our minds-- we carefully planted the tree at the far end of the garden, where Muffin the rabbit made it his Campaign Headquarters and Centre of Operations for launching vicious ambushes on Ruby the airhead cat. We hardly expected it to survive, but amazingly it did, and this year I approached the whole Tree Issue in the smug knowledge that ours was ready to pluck from the soil right on the doorstep in a simple and trauma-free operation taking probably five minutes tops.
It soon became apparent that tree had not only survived, but positively thrived, establishing a vast and vigorous root system that spread beneath half the garden. Venturing out about two hours after my husband had just 'nipped out' to get it, I found him knee deep in a huge crater that used to be the lawn, the tree listing at a drunken angle as he hacked through the last roots with a giant and sinister looking axe. It took two of us another hour to manhandle it into the house, where we discovered that the previously Sandringham-sized Christmas tree is now of Trafalgar Square proportions.
This morning have returned from the school run to find Muffin the rabbit exposed and shivering in the bottom of the crater, an expression of extreme indignation on his face. Can't help but sympathise. I think it would have been better left where it was, too.