When we were about halfway home, pushing the Christmas tree in front of us in Tadpole’s Maclaren buggy, I realised that the girl at the florist’s hadn’t actually given me the type I’d asked for. Mine had fat, luxurious, bottle brush type foliage, whereas this one, admittedly partially hidden by a net body stocking, was thin and sparse looking. Yet again, my attention had been diverted by a toddler at a crucial juncture in the transaction. Shopkeepers must see me and Tadpole coming and rub their hands together in gleeful anticipation. There is more than one way to shortchange a distracted mother.
I sighed, genuinely disappointed, but it was too late now, we had already covered 500 m at a
snail’s Tadpole’s pace, and it was too late, too cold and too dark to contemplate retracing our steps and argue about branch girth and foliage in French.
Once we had got ourselves and our needle-shedding friend up to the fifth floor apartment we call home, I clambered up the stepladder to retrieve the decorations from their lofty place of hibernation. Luckily they were still there, intact, aside from the fairy lights, of which, predictably, only half still worked. I have not so fond memories of that fateful Christmas when the bag of decorations could not be found, no matter where Mr Frog and I hunted. I had to concede, bashfully, that the bag must have been an accidental casualty of my passion for “decluttering”. Not a mistake you would want to make more than once. Christmas decorations are supposed to be amassed over a long period of time, not purchased all at once for a price equivalent to the GDP of a third world country.
The tree positioned on the wicker chest I use for the storage of spirits (of the alcoholic variety), after careful removal of a few choice bottles which I suspect I will be needing in the interim, I opened up the decoration bag and showed Tadpole the glittering bounty within.
I had imagined this scene in my head, ever since Tadpole’s first breathless exclamation of appreciation as we passed the mairie with its curtain of white lights and mammoth twin sapins. Tadpole and mummy, bathed in the soft light of a non-malfunctioning garland of Habitat lights, in fuzzy soft focus, with a soundtrack of carol singers warbling on the stereo. A candidate for Tadpole’s First Memory, perhaps?
What my shiny, feel good fantasy hadn’t quite accounted for were the hazards of the safety pins and bent paperclips I use to hang the various baubles and stars up. Nor had I actually thought through the implications of Tadpole using eggshell thin baubles as juggling balls, or squeezing them tightly in her little palms.
My best laid plans flew swiftly out of the window, as I shrieked anxiously “No! Not like that, careful!” and “Don’t touch that! It’s really sharp! You’ll get a bobo!”
Upon which Tadpole rapidly lost interest in the whole enterprise and started colouring her teletubbies’ magazine instead, tongue protruding in concentration.
I have to say that as I decorated the tree, alone, I wasn’t exactly assailed by a feeling of déjà vu.