It’s only a couple of weeks to Christmas. We don’t put up a tree or decorate the house until Christmas Eve. Last year we left buying the tree a little too late, and the only trees that were left were either the straggly thin things that everyone else had refused to take, or were the size that towns put up in their market squares or shopping centres. All that is except for one tree which though on the small end of the market square variety was still far too big for the inside of a house. In fact, when the lady and her helpers hauled it upright for us to inspect, we all burst out laughing at the mere thought of having a tree so ridiculously enormous inside a house. So we bought it. We christened it ‘Spruce Willis’. It was too big to lift onto the top of the car, but by putting all the seats down and having the back door open, we managed to fit enough of it in to make the drive home. We had to trim it to even get it into the house, and the ceiling is still scored across with the resiny track marks of the top where we squashed it across the room. I had to make a huge cement filled pot just to keep it standing upright. Easily one whole quarter of the room vanished behind it. We put every decoration we could find on it and stood back, and as we turned out the lights and lit the tree we suddenly appreciated that it was the most beautiful tree we had ever had. Come Twelfth Night we took it down again and put it outside. We have a family tradition, we strip the Christmas tree of its branches leaving only the trunk, then keep the trunk dry until the following Christmas when we make a Twelfth Night log of it. It’s our way of keeping Christmas from one year to the next. But last year when I came to strip the branches that huge tree had a surprise for us. Deep amongst its branches was an empty bird’s nest. It had been there behind the lights and decorations all through Christmas and we had never seen it. It was a magical little thing. I’ve kept it very safely.
This year we’ve agreed that there’s no going back. We need a tree every bit as big as Spruce Willis was. We’ve even got a name for him already.