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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Every year, we head down to the Chandlers Hill Christmas tree farm to pick out a good one, and to get in the mood for the coming festivities.
The property sits on the delicious-sounding Sugarloaf Road, amongst a sea of pine trees, and as we park and unload the children, the smell of fresh pine conjures up happy Christmas memories.
Our first job is to choose the tree, and we wander over to the simple converted house with a shed and shop attached. Inside, spiky branches loom on all sides, and the children hide in amongst the trees as we walk down the rows. It reminds me of the world of Narnia through the wardrobe, and I like to think this place has a little of the same magic.
Eventually we choose a smaller tree that is a little crooked on one side. It’s not perfect, but that’s part of the charm. As we make our payment, the woman smiles and hands out free candy-canes for each of the kids.
Then the children leave us with the heavy lifting, and race out for their favourite part – a ride on the back of the tractor. It’s not much bigger than a ride-on mower, with a seat on the back made out of straw bales. The children step up nervously and ask for a ride.
‘Hop in and hold on,’ the driver says, then chugs slowly around the parking lot with the children bouncing around on the back, smiles from ear to ear.
I, on the other hand, take the tree and attempt to fit it into the Tarago. It’s quite an art, and I tip my hat to the couple nearby that squeeze theirs into a Mitsubishi Lancer with no rear doors. Then, as I stand there admiring my work, a big order comes in. A crane drives around the corner and lowers a massive tree onto a four-wheel drive with an epic trailer. The owner stands to one side grinning – well played, my friend, well played.
Finished, I hail my wife with the green light, and she manages to drag the children from their second ride. We pile in amongst the needles and make our way home.
At home, I fix the tree into its purpose-made, ridiculously heavy, red bucket full of concrete, which holds a sturdy green pole. My wife and I dust off the Christmas decoration boxes – mostly hand-me-downs dating back to the seventies. The tree is firmly attached and sits nicely in the corner – my job is done.
My wife is happy to take over and lace the lights through the branches, before the children finish it off with their allotted tasks. The eldest is keen to do it all, and lathers on the tinsel. The middle one is particular about the choice of baubles and is careful that the colours match. The youngest is pretty much happy as long as he gets to put the angel somewhere.
We all stand back for a moment and admire our work, then the whole affair is forgotten until dark. But later that night, as the lights are lowered and everyone is ready for bed, the tree becomes a feature again. It sparkles silently in the darkened corner, and for the first time, the season feels like it has begun.
12/12/2017 / Kit Densley