Whether you’ve decided to listen to Boris Johnson, or common sense, Christmas will be unusual this year – but there’s one tradition we can rely on, no matter what.
A comforting anchor in a sea of change and uncertainty, this festive experience unites us as a nation because we know it’s
definitely going on in houses up and down the country. I’m talking, of course, about the argument about when to put up the tree.
Some people are premature celebrators, fully fairy-lit at the crack of December, while others abide strictly by the 12 days of Christmas lore.
My husband and I have had this row so many times we both know the script off by heart. Next year, I might suggest he plays me and I play him, to bring a bit of novelty to proceedings.
When we became parents we tried to agree on our family strategy so we could start a magical tradition that we’d follow every year. And, in a way, we’ve succeeded.
Our son now knows that at some point in December, there will be a silent, seething, stomping journey to get a tree, with a mum and dad who aren’t looking at, never mind speaking to each other, the compromise that has been agonisingly negotiated over many hours merely ensuring that nobody is happy. Ho, ho, ho.
If it was up to my husband – who is relentlessly jolly all year round – our tree would be up early, say, around July.
I’d leave it until Christmas Eve. Maybe the weekend before Christmas at an incredibly generous stretch.
If you get it too soon, it’s past its best by the day you bought it for. Also it, and the decorations, lose their sparkle if you’re used to them. They need to be special guests stars in your living room, not recurring characters.
Once Christmas is done – as in, Boxing Day evening – I start eyeing the tree like a serial killer weighing up their next victim. It’s a mercy kill, really. I’m embarrassed for the poor thing, because it’s so clearly no longer relevant.
It’s the arboreal version of Madonna sitting in the corner of the room, in a leotard, showing you how high she can still kick her leg up. Depending on who won the argument that year, there’s a good chance our tree is older than Madonna by that point, too.
I want it gone. My husband knows I want it gone. There then follows Festive Fight 2: The Sequel.
We are a family who respect and embrace our customs, so we will then, at some point, take the tree down in exactly the same manner as we bought it – seething with resentment, not speaking to each other. That’s probably what Silent Night is about, now I come to think of it.
This is my Christmas position. Always has been. Always will be. The lady is not for turning... until now.
This year has been – not sure anyone else has used this term – unprecedented. And therefore it’s only right that festive decorating policy is just the same.
Normal decorum can do one. Laws of decency be damned. This is one rule that can be ignored, without making anyone Dominic Cummings, or the Dominic Cummings Of Pop, Rita Ora.
We have all had more than our fill of gloom. Everybody needs cheering up.
So, for one year only, if you want to put your tree up early, go for it – if you haven’t already, which you probably have if the windows I pass on the school run are any indication. In 2020, you get your joy wherever you can. Note to my husband: this does not include you, obviously.