Some people have one special treat that marks the start of Christmas. It could be advent calendars for the kids, setting up the crib, scoffing a first mince pie or decorating the tree.
“That’s my favourite thing,” sighed my friend, “Going to the garden centre and selecting the tree. I LOVE the fresh pine smell, the feel and colour of a real fir, bringing it home and decorating it with the kids. Last year, though, was a disaster.”
“We went to the garden centre as usual,” she explained. “The man showed us a selection. “OK,” I said impatiently, “We’ll just go straight to the end and get a tall one.” He looked at me pityingly, as if I was completely off my head. “This is it, I’m afraid. We don’t stock large trees any more. People don’t have the space and they didn’t sell out in the past.” He strolled off and left us to it. I looked at the miserable choice and sniffled.
“What about this?” my husband suggested. “Too small,” I wailed, like a disconsolate Goldilocks. The type we usually get is about 12 feet and takes two to carry, certainly not the stringy specimen he pointed at. Even my eleven-year-old, a skinny slip of a thing could lift it with one hand. Instead she whipped out the camera phone to record my embarrassing melt-down!”
“Despite her threat of posting it on YouTube, I cried all the way home, I was so disappointed. “Mom, get a grip,” she wisely counselled, “There are more important things to be sad about.” ‘Course she was right. Once its scrawny branches were dressed and bits of tinsel thrown on, it looked better.”
Listening to my friend’s tree-trouble tale, I nodded in empathy, “Look, at least you were there to decorate it. Last year I hauled our plastic fir and containers of baubles into the house, warning the kids not to touch anything. I wanted to remember what was in which tub, given that I’d be the one packing everything away in a few weeks. When I returned later I could barely get inside the door – every blessed box had been ripped asunder and thrown on the floor. The tree looked lovely but the room was a mess!”
“If you think that’s bad, try dealing with a house extension during December,” added another pal. “Nearing breakdown, I was dragging bags of cement like dead bodies across the kitchen tiles, never mind a tree! No sooner would I clear some space than soccer or sports gear was dumped there. Even a fairy godmother couldn’t calm me!”
The 8th of December has passed. It’s officially countdown to Christmas. Although spared the task of buying a tree, our imitation spruce hasn’t yet been put up. The house must be cleaned; turkey ordered, presents bought, the list goes on. Like other mammies I’ll try not to panic, but will we ever get organised for Christmas?
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Maeve O’Keeffe, the Frazzled Mammy! ©Maeve O’Keeffe 2014
Maeve O’Keeffe is a Cartoonist, Illustrator and Journalist in Cork, Ireland