For the first time in my life, after years of wishing and wanting and waiting, it has finally happened.
We have a real Christmas tree.
It might not seem like much to you, but to me the lure of the real Christmas tree has been something that has haunted Christmas celebrations past, like a ghost of dreams unfulfilled. This year, celebrating our first Christmas in Melbourne and having, with no family close to us, an Orphan’s Christmas, we decide to splash out on our decorations. The Christmas tree is first on the list, to embody in smell and sight all that we are missing out on celebrating Christmas in the summer. Last year, we were rugged up in England with Dean’s mum’s cooking and lots of English adventures. This year it’s just Dean and I, with a few friends tagging along for the ride, and everywhere I see these advertisements for real, live Christmas trees.
This year, I said yes to that.
While I originally had this mental image of going to some Christmas tree farm outside of town and cutting my own Christmas tree from a perfect row of pine, I settle in the end for a small, family-owned reseller. We buy the tree in a backyard not 15 minutes from our house, and even netted and trimmed we barely get it into the car. The top sticks out the window and waves at people as we drive down the street. The air smells like Christmas all the way home, and then my hands retain it for hours after.
My first lesson in Christmas trees is figuring how to get the tree in the base. We mount it, but ever-s0-slightly crooked, and then we aren’t sure how to correct it. The second is the needles. By the time we get it into the stand they are everywhere, from carpark to couch. The third, and I think this might be specific to Australia, is the spiders. A few hand-sized ones decide to relocate from the tree to our living room the second we get the tree set in the corner, and only lightning fast reflexes, screaming, and a small broom stop that from happening. I carefully spin the tree and inspect it in full after the slaughter, but it seems they were the only visitors coming from the tree this holiday season.
With a small pile of presents underneath, there’s something magical about that real life tree. I love a bit of greenery, and this is a houseplant that I can definitely get used to. Once decorated, and hung with rainbow-coloured lights, I spend the nights just sitting on the couch staring at it, mince pie in hand, letting the smells of Christmas wash over me. Outside, the weather cools to a chill out of season and we get to spend a night or two sitting in jumpers in front of the tree, pretending that the weather outside really is frightful, and 13 hours of sunlight don’t await us tomorrow. It’s not much, but when it’s Christmas in the summer you have to take what you can get.