I learned this week that five-feet two-inch tall single mums struggle to purchase six-foot Christmas trees. But they CAN do it.
Much like I have never wired a plug, or, before this year, ordered in utilities, interweb access, and a man to trim my bush (er, as in the guy who comes to look after the garden) I have never previously purchased a Christmas tree.
That job was always left to my ex; he would come back with some six foot plus specimen, take it into the garden, hack bits off the bottom of it, and then fix it into a special screwy-in pot. Then I did the decorating, and he would water it religiously so the needles didn't drop. That arrangement was in place every Christmas for the duration of our 15 year relationship.
Because of that, I asked him for advice this year. I had pressing questions: would I HAVE to saw a bit off the bottom of it? How would I get it in the car? How would I get it out of the car? How would I carry it into the house? Just HOW would I even purchase a Christmas tree at all?
But I did. It took two attempts over two days (accidentally went food shopping on day one, and then realised we could not fit a tree in the car with all the bags, plus did not like the leery man and his 'putting it up' comments in one garden centre).
Day two, and son and I ventured to a different garden centre. Tempers began to flare as he badgered me for the most enormous (and therefore the most expensive) because "That's what Daddy always bought" and one that was not in a net as he wanted to watch the man put it through the bagging machine. I was almost convinced by a ridiculously tall, unbagged, non-dropping Norwegian something or other when son accidentally jumped on my foot, and, Christmas tree rage combined with claustrophobia (there were about 30 jostling pensioners with us in this xmas hell-hole) reduced me to absolute fury, and I dragged him back to the car telling him that the tree could now wait until NEXT weekend assuming my toes had not turned gangrenous and fallen off by then.
Guilt then overtook me, and we drove to a local greengrocers where I had noticed some trees earlier in the week. It was closed. I drove to another. There was nowhere to park. I parked a five minute walk away and went and looked at the trees.
"I can do you that non-drop for £45," cheery grocer-man told me, with no suggesting of 'putting it up' or other lewdness. "I'm not sure I'll be able to get it to my car," I demurred, "And it's a bit more than I wanted to pay..."
"Forty pounds and I'll carry it to the car," grocer said. Unaware my car was not one of the many parked outside his shop.
Sadly, he did not offer to come home with us and get it out the other end, but, five hours later (yes, really) the tree was in the stupid screwy-in thing, partially decorated and lit (partially because most of my decorations were not where I had left them last year.) There was dried blood on my hands, my throat was sore from shouting/swearing, my son and the dog were cowering in the corner, and I had posed the question on Facebook: "Isn't decorating the tree supposed to be FUN?".
My ex came round and raised his eyebrows at it. "Did you do it all yourself?"
"Are you planning on leaning all Christmas?"
"What do you mean 'leaning'?"
"It's totally wonky. It's all over one side. And have you watered it?"
"No," interrupted my son, "She hasn't. I TOLD her to."
Gnashing teeth I watered my wonky tree. MY tree. MY wonky six foot tree which I carried in from the car and put up all by myself. And anyway, I like wonky.