Today was Christmas Tree day. To say the children were over-excited was a bit of an understatement. They have been begging for one for weeks, roughly ever since Mrs L started playing Christmas carols in about mid-October. So yesterday, seeing as I was doing the school run in the good ship Eco One, we came back via Homebase, bought a tree and threw it on the roof-rack. Despite last year's disappointment, I found myself once again choosing a Nordmann Fir. I figure that seeing as it is a dead cert that it will scatter needles all over the place with every single minor vibration, I might as well get a tree whose needles don't jab painfully into your feet like tiny shards of glass. These ones are at least soft. I didn't really pay much attention to labels, other than scoffing at the trademarked "needlefast" bit. I just selected a tree that would look nice in the bay window, and hauled it to the till. The till rang up an eye-watering and wallet-busting £45. Surely some mistake, I only had one tree, not three. But no, Christmas in Norway comes earlier than elsewhere it seems, and Harald and his merry men must be laughing as they sup their £25 pints of festive Aquavit. I did not tell the children how much Lego they could have had instead of this tree, nor how that Lego would bring lasting satisfaction, unlike the tree, which is destined for the local tip in about three weeks. Upon arriving home, I stashed it carefully in the back garden for the night, and hoped that the foxes wouldn't piss on it like they do everything else. Everything was ready.
The foxes, I am happy to report, have not ruined Christmas, and our front room now smells of pine, rather than anything else. Rapt with delight, three small faces beamed up at me as I lugged it in from the garden. A few snips to release it from the netting, and there it was in all it's £45 magnificence. It is on the 6ft side of the 6-7ft quoted on the label, but the children are happy, and that is the main thing. The decorations were retrieved from the loft, and we were off. Joy of joys, the lights worked first time. This is about the tenth year in a row that this has been the case, and is nothing short of a miracle. When I was a child, the two weeks leading up to Christmas were spent unscrewing and screwing back in tiny little bulbs in a vain effort to find which of the 300,000 was causing the other 299,999 to fail. Not so with modern lights it appears, plug in and away you go. Christmas music on the stereo, and the scene is set.
As you can probably guess, I have not been birding today. I have to admit it did look nice outside, but I decided that I would prefer to stay indoors and drink tea. I need to be kicked out. This happens from time to time, my urge to bird the patch diminishes to nothing. Then, finally, I drag myself out and really really enjoy it. I'm almost there. Perhaps tomorrow. Sorry if you came here wanting birds, but don't despair, January the first is just around the corner. Then it will be hell for leather, with non-stop birdy talk, and the excitement that only a January Blue Tit can bring.