When I moved to Delhi and our first Christmas came around I remember asking a lot of people where I could get a tree from and no one really knew. There were plenty of artificial trees but I have never had one and somehow I was not quite ready to make the switch. I dont know if going from a real tree to an artificial one is like going from a real book to a kindle - there may be some interesting similarities here, but I digress. Having searched high and low I ended up going to a nursery and buying a tree in a pot which I brought in every Christmas and then looked after for the rest of the year in the garden.
This year I went along to my local shopping area and there was a whole shop dedicated to trees and wreaths, mainly real, but some artificial ones, thrown in for good measure. There was a whole catalogue of what was available thin ones, fat ones, tall ones, small ones. I chose a small one, on the grounds that the price was high enough as it is and my space was limited so off he went to collect it. The trees come from a sustainable source and when we are done with them Brisbane City Council collects them to prop up areas of erosion. Carpets were removed and a through way was made to the living room where we rearranged the furniture to give it centre stage. His instructions however were to put it in water and this is sensible enough bearing in mind that this is Australia and the temperatures are in the 30Cs. But how do you prop a Xmas tree in a bucket of water without it tumbling over which it did on two occasions? We wedged it, propped it, poked it and lodged it, we brought cartons and cardboard, we contemplated sand and dirt, we cut templates and we rummaged around in the garden for rocks that we could shove either side of the bucket to keep the tree upright. The physical effort was entirely his but I was the underling who fetched and mopped, shifted and held it from toppling on his head. After some considerable physical exertion we managed to prop it up and I brought out all our lovely hand painted Indian baubles with their golden threads and pompoms and tied each and every one to the tree. It was completed with one of my son's sparkly drawings, a mix between an angel and a Commander of a ship and of course the most precious bauble of all, my golden glass case which had been flattened by Tara chewing on it as if it were a bone, teeth marks and all.
The lights were switched on and I stepped back in some awe. The room was flooded with the unmistakable smell of pine and and the lights lent a soft golden glow to where I stood. Yes Christmas is special and I am ready to gather my flock around me. Wishing all of you out there the peaceful sight of bats flying out at dusk, or the gentle silent dusting of snow on the ground, wherever in the world you might be, with time for thought, sharing and a deeper understanding of what we can do for one another.