Perhaps it’s the universal nature of babies; small, cute, prone to sleeping during the day; that they will sleep through many of what you consider their important firsts. Elma slept through her first crib service aged 2 weeks 2 days, most of her first Christmas (2 weeks, 3 days), her first family party (2 weeks 5 days), and a good stretch of her own christening.
And now we can add another; she slept through her first trip to choose a Christmas tree, tucked up in the Ergo on my front, snug, warm and ever so gently snoring. Well, after a week in which the impending arrival of two tiny little front teeth has left her sad, hot and sleepless, there isn’t much that would be worth waking her for.
And so, for the fourth year running, the duties of tree selection went to the sharp eyed team of Kitty and H.
The rejects were “too anorexic” (H), “too wobbly” (Kitty), “just not our tree” (H) or “maybe just no” (Kitty), oh, and “too big, it’s taller than you!” (me – to H, who looses all sense of the size of our lounge the minute he gets outside)
Until at last, on the verge of seeing feathery green fronds burned into our retinas every time we shut our eyes, we rounded a corner and there it sat, our tree; not too tall, deeply green, and plump with bauble-ready branches.
It fit in the car (just) and spent Saturday afternoon sat on the patio giving me half a fright every time I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye and thought it was a person.
And on Sunday morning, in the pre-dawn dark, when two pairs of bright eyes decided that it was getting up time, and the sleepy eyes that followed them downstairs saw no reason to protest, we dragged the boxes down from our half landing where they’d spent the last year waiting to be put away somewhere else, and opened up the treasure chests of rustle and sparkle.
A green and gold tree skirt, H’s reindeer stocking with the jingle bells, my little Father Christmas, and the stockings that I made for the girls, miles of tinsel, and then little bundles of tissue paper, boxes from chocolates long gone, all holding memories. The bauble with Kitty’s hand and footprints, 12 weeks old, made for her first Christmas; the white ball that jingles as it moves that we gave Elma last year; the candy striped sphere that H and I bought for our first Christmas together; and memories of every holiday we’ve been on together.
H and I put the really special and the really fragile ornaments up at the top of the tree and this year for the first time Kitty could really join in, hanging my felt ornament trios, plastic gingerbread boys and girls and made-by-Kitty-at-nursery ornaments all over the lower branches. Elma, wide awake this morning, tried to box dive whenever we weren’t looking, and, after Kitty shared a pre-breakfast Father Christmas, turned a chocolatey smile on all and sundry.
And so this is our tree:
It’s multi-coloured, eclectic, full of memories and a rather astonishing number of handmade ornaments (I think I forget in these rather barren crafty times just how prolific I used to be!), and most importantly it fills our house with lights, anticipation and that delicious smell of Christmas tree.
Now that we have the tree up, Christmas is really truly coming; it’s a cast iron (cast wood?) excuse for all the festivey sorts of things that you’re itching to do but don’t want to do ‘too soon’; now there can be wall to wall carols and Michael Buble Christmas on the radio; even more glittery afternoons than usual; and a kitchen with fugged up windows and the most delicious smells sneaking out under the door.
But before all that, there is one more first to record; because on the basis that we bought an decorated Tree 2012 almost a fortnight before madam made her arrival, I’m declaring this one to be Elma’s first Christmas tree. And if that’s not an excuse for some really fuzzy, still-in-our-pyjamas, first thing in the morning family photos, well frankly I don’t know what is!
I think H’s expression reads “If I’d known there were going to be photos I’d have made a lot more coffee” – oh my dear boy, there are always going to be photos!
Elma: scene stealing since December 2012!!