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Thursday, 9 December 2010


Got a new Christmas tree from B&Q (the glamour).

I only ended up with it out of spite, really. A real one was ruled out because of the extra hoovering duties incumbent on ownership of same. Plus they’re always wonky and bald when you spring them from the net.

Then Homebase had been hopeless, simply hopeless, and I’d found myself in that Mecca of tat, B&Q staring blankly, like the dog at her empty bowl, at the displays of plastic trees there, trying to make sense of the new vocabulary. The snow-tipped, the self-lit, the pop up.

Just as I decided I’d made a decision (oh giddy day) I noticed the gap behind the display tree. Typically, they'd all gone, the kind I had my eye on. The kind, moreover, that was half price. Who can resist? So I went on line and fiddled on my phone trying to see if could get one delivered, when I spotted a B&Q bloke huffing and puffing over a fork lift truck and asked him.

"Not getting any more in, no,” he said. Then, “you can have that one, if you want, the display one."

"Oh," I said, thinking about it. I couldn’t weigh up if it was really quite a good find or truly vile. The children were doing that near death thing children do when waiting on a parent and my decision making capacity has never been good at the best of times, still less when confronted with a possible bargain, possible big mistake.

Then a really oiky couple – him a big bruiser with a bald head and bulging eyes and her all fake fur coat, high heels and S American attitude – said, "Oi! We'd'a had that!" She munched up her lips and clutched her fake fur coat at impressive poitrine point and He left hooked the air making his car coat ride up.

"Are you together?" asked Mr B&Q. Did he really need to ask.

"No," I said quietly.

"I'll put it in your trolley, shall I?"

“Do,” I said.

So I got it. Whether I wanted it or not really which is not a part of my psyche I’m happy confronting.

Am still worried that it might be more than a little chavvy, particularly given the nature of the other couple’s interest, miaow, but overall it is really rather nice. I think.

I’d been to a drinks thing the night before where there was the most immaculate tree in the world. You could but stand and stare. It was the sort of house with garlands on the stairs and wreaths of dyed ostrich feathers. In November. Startling.

“Don’t mention the tree!” sighed my hostess, her hand shooting to her brow. “Stress! I’ll give you stress.” Her children skulked in the background. “Course the girls want to help,” she continued. “I thought about it. For a moment. But it always gets nasty. They haven’t got a clue. No sense of balance. I’m there, twitching. And that’s no good for anyone. So I sent them out with the dog and did it myself. Had a little sherry.”

With this in mind – and strangely familiar, bar the sherry – I determined to do ours with the children this year. So that in their memory bank was at least one instance in their bleak little childhoods of me playing the Merry Mum and not the vicious dictator. This meant not shooting out my hand to rearrange their cack-handed attempts. It meant Bye Bye to tasteful silver and Hello There to a more gaudy combo of bronze (by which I don’t mean orange, I mean bronze), lime green and purple. It meant it was all actually quite good fun. And, most importantly, up.

Just to say a big thanks to Ben at Appliances Online for sending me some yumtastic chocs. I wanted a washing machine where the door shuts without using your knee but chocs will do nicely instead. Nice company.


Preseli Mags said...

Please write blogs more often! Vintage Milla and so funny. I gave in years ago to my children decorating the tree. We have to buy a strong one to copy with the weight of the decorations... and wear sunglasses indoors for the whole of December.

Expat mum said...

We have an artificial one (recycled and sustainable I prefer to call it) and it's gorgeous! This year I let the kids put the deccies on until they grew bored and floated off, then I straightened them all out when they'd gone to bed.

her at home said...

Good to see you back Milla!

The art of allowing the kids to decorate and still retain a modicum of good taste is this... arrange pjamamed off spring late in evening and put on carols, dim lights open bottle of something with bubbles for yourself and any other accompanying adult. Let kids run free on decorations box ( if feeling extremely agitated at prospect remove anything too vile before you hand over tinsel and baubles) Drink as if you have heard rumours of the return of prohibition. Once children have finished , listen to carols and gaze at fairy lights being very careful to avoid looking at tree itself.

Tell offspring how lovely it looks and put them to bed. When safely assurred htey are really asleep. Re-decorate tree by tastefully rearranging the disaster they have created.

Frances said...

Milla, it sounds as if you actually rescued that tree! Bravo to you for that act of mercy, and also for having the family get into the tree decorating.

You took me a bit down memory lane to Christmas tree times of yore. My dad and I always decorated the tree. No one else in the family ever seemed at all interested. I loved those times and really miss them.

Yes, your post has made me laugh, but also got me a bit nostalgic.

Maybe your boys will be growing some memories of their own this December? xo

Elizabethd said...

When mine were young it was the paper streamers that finished me off.

Shady said...

Your post has made me laugh, it is very interesanting!

Edward said...

Very good blog, as usual, though your productivity needs attention.

I missed all the "fun", being at work, but it was very pleasant to come back to a beautifully decorated tree. When I were a nipper we kids did the tree, while our mother mainlined gin in the kitchen. Happy days.

Milla said...

thank you, all.
Sunglasses, PM, good move.
Expat and HerAt - wisdom from across the seas. That old favourite, which I always forget: let them *think* they've done it, then undo it all, then deny. Darn it, why do I never remember.
Frances, yes, I did it with my father. Seem to remember that the grimmer end of the deal, the dismantling in January, was mine all mine. Lucky me.
Elizd, paper streamers, yeGads, I'm seeing carnage.
Shady - thanks for dropping by!
Edward, ahem, you were NOT "at work." You were in Cornwall. On a boys' weekend. Having fun. Let's not forget.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I've been reading your blogs for some time now and you never fail to disappoint with your great writing. Hope you enjoy the tree and it gives you much pleasure when standing in awe, glass of mulled wine, singing carols. Okay, maybe not the carols.

CJ xx

legend in his own lunchtime said...

Hilarious. Legend Jnr's contribution this year was to help choose the tree. We gave him free rain to decorate, but this was not as much fun as complaining about my choices and arguing, so he gave up and went to bed.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

A very welcome post in the run up to Christmas - love the bit about 'bleak little childhoods'!

You won't want to hear that low drop trees are worth buying, but they are - and really don't drop needles while also smelling wonderful!!!

There's a giveaway on my blog and I hope that you'll take part. Best wishes, Lesley.

mountainear said...

More please Milla!
We've all been there with children and the'dog's dinner'. Quite miss it now I can do what I like!

Edward said...

Ok, so I was in Cornwall and not the office. It's not as if I was having any fun, though, as instead of surfing I was forced to walk on the Coastal Path. And eat pasties. And go to various pubs while some of us missed the Rock ferry. But the tree looks lovely, so your reservations about chavviness are unfounded.

nuttycow said...

This year is the first year I've bought a tree for myself so I had to go real (plus, it'd be a real shame, living in a country of mountains and what not, not to go for a proper tree).

It currently sits in all its minimalist glory - simply lights and silver baubles.

I feel almost proud of myself.

And quite Christmassy.

Helen@Leather baby shoes said...

I'm putting my tree up today while the kids are at school. They will be happy to see it up and, I'll be happy that I avoided all the stress of having "helpers". Am I a bad mother?

Milla said...

ah some lovely new faces - well, I'm assuming you're lovely.
CJ, you're an old face and very welcome anytime. I guess you've heard me trying to sing, then!
Legend, yup, the arguing. Gawd bless it. My, how those 1940s films lied.
Lesley - on my way, elbowing the weak and helpless out the way.
Thanks, ME, I know, even in my whining, I'm mourning its loss already. Crazy.
E, yes, I feel your pain. A weekend away with chums. Ghastly.
NC, you're young, plenty of time for tat and tawdry for you
Helen, nope, you're very very wise. I'm also guessing your children are dear and young.
Thanks all!

Cait O'Connor said...

What a treat to read your blog Milla.
Enjoy the tree - make sure you get your money's worth.

Shopgirl said...

I smiled and cringed at your description of the couple, smile for you, cringe for them. I think I saw them on my tree lot the other day...

Love your writing style, I definitely let my son decorate, it's great fun like you said.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

There's letting decorate and there's letting decorate - I'm more in the would you like to put this bauble in roughly that area camp but then mine are still small enough to do that... probably

Now sherry, that's an idea! Or possibly mulled wine

elizabethm said...

We abandoned tastefulness in about 1983 and now have so much tat there is no point in trying to go back. Plus now the kids are adult they make a fuss if the toilet roll holder and the drunk knitted snowman aren't on the tree. You totally did the right thing.

Milla said...

well, yes, Elizm, I get quite cross with my ma if the plastic Robin Hood isn't unseemly upclose&personal with some confused ancient polar bears. This is the Christmas cake I'm talking about, which is a busy affair.
Cait, great to see you again. Money's worth, hmmm, you know me well.
Shopgirl, thanks for coming by. Perhaps I could use your son next time? Does he have clever tricks up his sleeve regarding silver 'n' white? he does? good, swing him by.
MAM, I envy you your young children, and not just tritely (though you would be forgiven for assuming same)

Exmoorjane said...

Damnit, yes, more, more more more more.....(in Billy Idol mode, stamping foot and brandishing arm at virtual camcorder).

We are treeless. ALl those years at Lee Farm with our own plantation made it impossible to buy one. Last few years friends have turned up with offerings. THis year....who knows??

But yes to letting children help decorate... I battle too - the aesthetic against the good mother - but make myself not care. Sure, afterwards, there is a little judicious rearrangement...but hey...

Please post more...preferably every day. :)

Kitty said...

It's the labels at the bottom of the blog that make me laugh as much as anything. Gaudy oiks. Perfect.
I think that B&Q couple were in work last week. Big bald man said whatever his bird wanted she got. Apart from she couldn't cram her manly calves into fucshia Hunters. Sorry, babe (for that seemed to be her name).
I let H start on the decorations himself this year. He was bored in mere moments, leaving me to fanny about with lights and overly-styled gingham and Shaker ornaments. But I do have a lovely stair garland, twinkly lights and all. It's like a bloody disco in here, all the 'slo glo' and 'twinkle' and 'combo' going on with these LED lights. Lordy.

Milla said...

Jane, scrounging trees is optimistic. We're like that with logs - 8 years of freebies at the last house so no way we could contemplate buying them at this. Hence no log burner. The things we deny ourselves to make a stance.
Sorry Babe and Bloke sullied your gracious shop, KB. Frightful thing, the proles in motion. Can I borrow H, though, for next year's tree??