The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

The Great Christmas Tree Bun-fight!

on December 7, 2014

There was a bit of a Christmas tree buying frenzy at the weekend in Singapore.

It didn’t bode well when we went to buy ours the weekend before and they were all SOLD OUT. In November at that. You know my views on Christmas trees up before December.

I’m all for Christmas build up but you have got to time it right so you can keep the momentum going at just the right level of enthusiasm.

This is our seventh tropical Christmas and we have been going back to the same garden centre each year to get our tree without experiencing any scarcity issues before. The excitement of there being no trees last weekend meant an early outing to the garden centre on Saturday morning. You can’t be complacent about these things.

So, despite the sudden tropical rain storm that caused drains to overflow a mere 10 minutes beforehand, there was already a queue of cars lined up outside the garden centres. There’s a whole row of them along one stretch. I’m still feeling quietly confident at this point though, especially when I’d already prepaid for one.

The garden centre staff are looking harassed and doing lots of deep sighing. What for? Where’s your Christmas spirit whilst we’re trying to choose our tree!

Considering the shipment only arrived the day before, there are surprisingly few trees around. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this as more and more people start streaming into the garden centre carrying their stands from the Christmas before.

They have come prepared.

They know the drill.

They are not leaving without a tree attached to that stand.

Couples start pacing up and down the rows of trees, inspecting the potential of a Merry Christmas that tree will bring to their home. Another couple bypasses them, which causes a slight rise in tension of the first couple perusing the tree in front of them. You can tell they are thinking, ‘this tree is good but what if there’s a better tree up ahead that these late contenders might take before us?’ So they quickly abandon the first tree, but the gap between the rows of trees is not wide enough for any overtaking. They’ve missed their chance.

But wait, what happens if we back track the way we came and inspect the trees from the other side? Good idea and so the first couple do an abrupt u-turn causing a juddering in the line of Christmas tree hunter gatherers, who telepathically cotton on to their idea and steal it from the first couple.

Ah, the Christmas tension crackled in the air!

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I think I’m on the outskirts of all this activity, I’m barely paying much attention to the other Christmas tree hunter gatherers. As I stop in front of one, I turn to Husband and #1 and ask them what they think of this tree. Obscured from the other side I suddenly hear a disembodied voice coming from the lower depths of the tree, ‘I was interested in this tree first’.

Excuse me?

Where’s the tag with your invoice number that gives you the right to lay such a claim to this particular tree? No invoice, no baggsying the tree.

Husband can obviously see this thought process drifting across my face and doesn’t want #1 to witness a terrible scene of Mummy helping the lovely lady take a closer look at the trees. So, he quickly ushers me on before I can say anything. A few minutes later, we find the same tree unceremoniously dumped, so fickle some people. And of course I wasn’t going to take it now that she has dumped it, even though I couldn’t see anything wrong with it.

Actually the truth is, we opted for a tree that had a slightly less wide bushy bottom.

So you see the perils of Christmas already?

I love a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. One that has been put together with thought and style to add an elegant ambience to your living room. I once had such a tree. I aspired to having one again this year but found myself over-ruled by four small people who raided the decorations box and were industriously and happily placing all the Christmas decorations we own on the tree. Everything seems to be concentrated around the mid level/small people height. It looks like someone has vomited baubles and decorations onto it.

I did consider re-distributing and even removing some of the decorations entirely to balance it out a bit but then I figured, this is their Christmas too and they had worked so hard on the tree and were so proud of it and each other. If I could get them to tidy up after themselves in much the same way I’d be such a happy parent. So for this year, an elegant and sophisticated look will have to pass us by.

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Another potential area for awkward discussion with #1 and 2 is that not all cultures and so not all children celebrate Christmas. So Father Christmas will not be visiting all homes this Christmas Eve (technically Christmas morning) which is what they believe. Do you know, I think I’ve just solved the time travel continuum theory of how Father Christmas does it. How can he possibly get around all the children’s homes in one night. Quite simply, he doesn’t have to. Well done me.

For them to find out now that Father Christmas will not becoming to your home even though you haven’t been bad is just too complicated to explain. But why not? Have you been naughty? So what happens instead?

Well, perhaps more of a focus on the religious and true meaning of Christmas? You know, sweet baby Jesus and all.

But anyway, that will come in time. For now, it’s enough to get my head around that Father Christmas will not be visiting the Nederlands. I did not know this until an education in the tradition of Sinterklaas by Mrs Pancakes for Dinner (another Dutch tradition). I previously assumed that Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicolaus, gave the Dutch children a gift at the start of December as a warm up to the main event some weeks later.

Saint Nicolaus is a very real and much loved Dutch figure who lived in medieval times and was honourable and kind to children. Sinterklaas arrived in Singapore on Sunday, 16 November just by Marina Bay Sands. Children laid out snacks and treats for him and his horses and good behaviour whilst he’s around is imperative to whether or not you receive a present from him on the evening of 5 December. Mrs Pancakes for Dinner said they would be celebrating with a special dinner, which involves no turkeys, and without warning, Sinterklaas and his helper will leave a present for the children wherever he chooses. Apparently through the open back door. It seems a lot more fluid and relaxed the Dutch way than the where will Father Christmas park his sleigh and how will he get in and where will he leave the presents. How great, you don’t even have to try and get to sleep as you do on Christmas Eve despite the high levels of excitement.

So, we had all gone round to see Mrs Pancakes for Dinner the day before Sinterklaas was to hopefully pay a visit to their new home and naturally I wished the children a wonderful and happy time for the next day. #1 overhears this exchange and wants to know what’s happening that is so special, clearly concerned about what he’s missing out on.

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This year, it’s still easy to provide a diversion to avoid giving an answer to questions I have no idea how to answer but it’s not going to last long. And whilst not really culturally diverse of me, I just don’t want the children to find out just yet that not all children truly believe in Father Christmas and the magic of Christmas.

Perhaps it’s really more for my benefit though to keep this belief alive.

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