Sorry, folks, but I’m afraid I’m like an annoying child when it comes to Christmas. The minute Black Friday is done and dusted, you’ll hear me repeating, “Can we buy the tree yet?” over and over again, just like an “Are we nearly there yet?” on a car journey. My husband always caves in. After 15 years of marriage, he knows not to argue.
I like my Christmas to come early. I cannot fathom the misery-fests who whinge about premature decorations and how terribly “uncouth” it is to get excited too early, blatantly ignoring the fact that they were once five years old and passionately believed in the man in red. Anyway, it’s December this week, so surely all the moaning can now stop?
Chez Dunn, festivities always start with the tree, of course, and our tree is very special – a broken one called Lucky, which is our crazy family tradition of rescuing the unloved broken runt at the back of the shop and a ritual now in its 13th year. Each year, Lucky is brought home, given some emergency ER with chicken wire and then it’s ready to be decorated. And this is always the moment when Christmas stops going quite so to plan.
Once upon a time, I had a colour-coordinated tree dressed in super-stylish petrol blue and white baubles from The Conran Shop. My tree matched my v v cool Neisha Crosland wallpaper, which I was very proud of, as well as my deep-pile rugs and grey felt 60s-style sofa. My lounge looked straight out of the pages of Livingetc, perhaps not that much of a coincidence as I was working there at the time.
The Conran baubles have long since smashed, sofas trashed, and my tree is now a mishmash of ancient kid-made creations
Fast forward a few years, 13 wonky trees and two kids later, and things are v v different. The Conran baubles have long since smashed, sofas trashed and my tree is now a mishmash of ancient kid-made creations (invariably shedding glitter and cotton wool all over the rug), crappy bits of school-fair junk (PTA tombolas have a lot to answer for) and a novelty “Christmas rabbit” on top of the tree. I think my beautiful vintage fairy flew away in disgust.
And before you say, "Heartless bitch, this woman hates her children’s crafts,” I must insist, “No, I don’t and I didn’t." I loved them at the time, but I was also more than aware that the barely recognisable felt robins and painted reindeers that I rescued from the bottom of their school bags had been tossed off by my two couldn’t-give-a-toss-about-art boys because they wanted to go off and play football in the playground.
Also, don’t get me started on the flotsam they brought home from Christmas school fairs. What is it about the things kids buy with their first-ever pocket money that makes them so cherished? Maybe it’s time for it all to be retired to my loft to the box marked “heirlooms for future grandchildren fingers crossed”. Or maybe not, because even though my boys are now monosyllabic teenagers, they still insist – INSIST – on loading poor lopsided Lucky with these disintegrating decorations “because it’s A FAMILY TRADITION, MUM!”; words that strike little daggers of remorse into my heart and shut me down instantly – after all, no one likes to be thought of as a bah humbug.
So, not all that grudgingly, I tolerate them. I dig out the Evo-Stik and, when the kids have finally gone to bed, spend half my evenings performing bauble surgery, sticking things back together, and the other half secretly Pinterest-boarding popcorn garlands and pine-cone wreaths.
Kitsch, stylish, real, fake, over-the-top or minimalist, Christmas trees are your chance to express yourself and be creative. The minute you have kids, though, I warn you, it’s game over.
Below, I have done my fantasy edit of baubles and other stylish things and have called it My Wishful Thinking Edit. (If you sense my yearning looking through it, that’s because my yearning is very real.)
Apparently, you can tell a lot from other people’s trees. I can tell you that I am committed to buying broken ones for the rest of my life and I am now an expert at bauble restoration. Obviously, I wouldn’t have it any other way.