Oh, Christmas tree

So, have you decorated your Christmas tree yet? I don’t know if it was because the first day of December fell on a Saturday this year but Christmas trees suddenly appeared in about half the living room windows near my home over the weekend.

Unfortunately I am not as organised as many of my neighbours, so my Christmas tree shopping will have to wait until next weekend. Come Saturday I will be trudging out to find a suitable Christmas tree for my own living room, preferably from somewhere within walking distance of my flat… which is one of the downsides of not owning a car!

I spent my childhood living an expatriate life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Although we celebrated Christmas in much the same way as our family back home in the UK, complete with turkey and stuffing at lunchtime, the weather in that part of South-East Asia wasn’t conducive to growing fir trees, so our Christmas tree was a particularly spiky plastic version that had to be assembled and disassembled branch by branch. As such, I really look forward to having a real tree in the house for a few weeks: the lovely smell it brings to the whole flat, the odd irregularities of shape and size, the quiet, slow dropping of the needles as the Yuletide season wears on: these are all things I missed as a child in the tropics.

It’s also really heartening to see so many houses in London with their Christmas trees on display. A lot of the homes near my flat were built in the first decade of the Twentieth Century and many have generous bay windows and high ceilings, perfect for showing off your conifer of choice.

Although I appreciate that any people like to decorate their Christmas tree tastefully, perhaps with a tartan theme or a particular colour palette, my opinion on the matter has always been this: December is a cold, dark, drab season. A Christmas tree gives you the opportunity to festoon an evergreen with lights and then bling it up with as much colour and kitsch as possible. Therefore, this year my Christmas tree will again be straining under the weight of my many, MANY, Christmas decorations, from Mexican Day of the Dead dolls to gaudy fuchsia glass baubles, from handmade figurines given to us by particularly arty nephews and nieces to Doctor Who action figures (a particularly scary Weeping Angel regularly tops the tree). Each year sees new additions to the tree: last year it was an eBayed Evil-Lyn doll (from my childhood obsession, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe); this year we have a light-up Frankenweenie decoration, from the recent Tim Burton Movie. It is such a joy unpacking the decorations and finding a place for them on the tree, and it is a real joy to walk through the streets of my local area and see the twinking lights and candles of neighbours’ trees illuminating the pavements.