petite anglaise

December 13, 2005


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:02 pm

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.


  1. Stop it, you make this grown man cry!

    Comment by Parkin Pig — December 13, 2005 @ 5:36 pm

  2. just give her a few years and some self-made christmas decorations and she’ll apreciate it. I have great memories of decorating the tree with my mom and my sister. My sister and I were allowed each year in turn to “plant” the star at the top. That was an honor ! ;-)

    Comment by Mélanie — December 13, 2005 @ 7:01 pm

  3. Our li’l lamb is 8 now and probably enjoying her ‘last’ real christmas if you know what I mean. And she lost interest with the whole tree and bauble thing after ten minutes of my partner in crime questioning her choice of colour combination. I could see it coming, but unless I want to find myself decorating my tree …

    I’m not unhappy with my French vocabulary, but the prospect of a conversation about branch girth and foliage leaves me trembling!

    Comment by Huw — December 13, 2005 @ 7:19 pm

  4. I’m sure simply sitting there colouring and watching Mom decorate the tree will be a lovely memory in her mind. I have those too. She did all the work, and I just loved watching her.

    Comment by ashbloem — December 13, 2005 @ 7:39 pm

  5. I have a lovely photo of husband and 2 year-old in front of newly decorated tree. My memory is fuzzy, but I believe the events preceding it were similar to what you describe, because husband, beaming with pride at his tasteful handiwork, is holding daughter who is howling with anger at not being allowed to pull off the carefully disposed baubles, or play with the attractive but fragile wooden angels.

    Comment by Susan — December 13, 2005 @ 9:15 pm

  6. Get her involved making paper ring chains, or cut out angels, somethings that don’t break. And enjoy her version. Teletubbies indeed.

    Comment by joeinvegas — December 13, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

  7. Ooh, memory…
    *Deathly* embarrassing at age 12 (as parents always are as their very breathing is old fogey-esque) in front of Scottish Presbyterian grandmother. My dear mum and dad had got into the festive cheer in the traditional manner i.e. 2 bottles of red wine. It was time for the very moving ceremony of ‘bringing in the tree’ through the living room door, my dad at one end, mum at the other. Tree was on the wide side, my mum said very loudly, ‘Lift and separate!’ and my dad said, just as loudly ‘Whaddya mean? It’s not boobs!’
    Uuuh, just wanted to, like, die…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 13, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  8. ‘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’.

    Absolutely spot on. Every year as a child I would eagerly await the unwrapping of my favourite bauble.

    Now I’m a grown up I’m really enjoying amassing my own collection of decorations. Not that I can ever find them, mind you. I must have about three different ‘collections’ stashed away in my flat.

    Comment by stressqueen — December 13, 2005 @ 11:51 pm

  9. Tadpole’s reaction seems eminently sensible to me…

    Comment by Alda — December 13, 2005 @ 11:55 pm

  10. Oh my mom used to do that to my sister and I, lol. Eventually we’d end up playing with Barbies or reading a book.

    My parents put up the tree alone again this year, and lol, my mom called to say she wished my sister and I were there… to yell at for doing it wrong. rotfl.

    It’s a good memory though, not a bad one. :)

    Comment by theinsider — December 14, 2005 @ 5:43 am

  11. Don’t fret Tadpole will make up for it all in the next few years, he’s as you say just a little tadpole yet. You have Tadpole inspired Christmas magic in store for years and years ahead.

    Comment by Andre — December 14, 2005 @ 10:15 am

  12. my daughter decorated our tree this year (after I put on the lights) she started with the tartan ribbon on the top (I had to resist screaming “nooooooooooo! the ribbon/angel/star always goes on last”) and then proceeded to decorate only one side of the tree and only the bottom branches…it took me huge efforts of self control not to intervene and I found myself struggling with my inner child not to fight with her or go in a huff because she wouldn’t let me put any baubles on…years of sharing christmas tree decorating with my brother and sisters obviously left it’s mark…

    Comment by croque madame — December 14, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

  13. “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.”

    Absolutely. When Mum and dad first split up and we really had no money, Mum made the Christmas decorations from cardboard, covering them with kitchen foil and stapling bits of tinsel to them. Over the years she has replaced them with hand painted silk balls and a range of silver, white and crystal decorations. The tree now really looks very stylish, very grown-up. However to her annoyance, over 20 years, she has never been able to convince my brother and I to change the star on the top of the tree. Despite the many foil patches on it, the cardboard stills shows through the many tiny rips that are in the foil. He is our star and had been with us in good times and bad. Once again he takes pride of place at the top of our tree.

    No arguments Mum !!!

    Comment by Scoobycat — December 14, 2005 @ 3:38 pm

  14. One of my (now 17-year-old) daughter’s better small-child comments was when her best friend came round with her mum and were admiring our “Christmas crib” (a set of little figures looking rather like plasticine but actually made from modelling clay so quite solid if fragile). Her friend said it looked fun. “Yes,” replied Vanessa, “but I’m not allowed to touch it so I only play with it when Mummy’s not in the room.” We were both standing right behind her at the time…

    Comment by Rob — December 14, 2005 @ 7:02 pm

  15. At least you do not have Daddy working in christmas tree production since early Novemeber…..even the kids were fed up with the smell of pine come December..!

    Comment by MorbihanPrincess — December 21, 2005 @ 9:36 pm

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