The first Christmas Trees have appeared in the front windows of houses in my road today. We leave ours until after our eldest daughter's birthday on 6th December, so there was always a clear break for her between her birthday and Christmas. We always choose our tree as a family.
However a few years ago, I came home from the weekly shopping trip on Saturday morning with my youngest daughter, then aged four, who excitedly called out 'Daddy! There's a tree!'
Sure enough, wedged in the front porch was the said article; wedged being the operative word as it was a fifteen foot monster! We normally have a six or seven foot specimen. My wife had no idea that it had been delivered. After dismissing the possibility that either of us or my mother-in-law had ordered it, close examination revealed a torn label, with only the first half of our street name on, and the number 13, our neighbours. They however were as much in the dark as we were. Closer examination of the label made us suspect that the 1 was actually a 7, so up the hill we went, tree dragging behind, to number 73, where Mr and Mrs Khan thanked us for our concern but assured us that they didn't mark the festive season.
All agreed that we had a stroke of luck, but there wasn't even a delivery note to refer to. The tree was here to stay, though if it did the top third would be bent at a right angle and traversing half of the living room ceiling. If we had been able to get it in the door in the first place; the lower branches were over 12 feet across!
Out came the saw from the little used DIY box, not an area of great expertise, followed by an hour of huffing and puffing, lots of sweat and a sore arm (STOP THAT!! RIGHT NOW!!) to remove three layers of branches and a three foot length of stump. Just narrow enough to fit through the door now, it still touched the ceiling in its stand and I had to carry my youngest up the stepladder for her tradition of putting the star on top.
Such was the size of the tree that we didn't have enough decorations to cover it, so on Sunday I was dispatched to buy more. My wife looked very sheepish when I got back. Two burly neanderthals had knocked on the door while I was out.
'Did we leave a Christmas tree here yesterday?'
'No! I don't believe you did! My husband is out buying ours now.' My wife is not a convincing liar.
This confused them. The sawdust from the previous day's effort still coated the path, several branches and the stump protruded from the green bin. The offending tree, slightly askew and lights ablaze sat proudly in the front window for all to see!
The torn label explained it all. It was meant for number 73, but in an avenue in leafy Blackheath which shared the first half of our road's name, where it would have adorned a double height Victorian hallway. Our six footer would have been totally out of place there. As it was, even after my pruning, the television was still out of view from half the room, and I was still finding needles well into the following Spring.
Hoping this year that Majestic or Ocado get confused with their deliveries.