I can’t see the wood for the trees

The perfect tree?:This one is everything mine is not...
The perfect tree?:This one is everything mine is not...
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THE pot plants have gone now.

Long since gone. Too good to live. Too beautiful and bright for a world such as this. They came with joy, then died as dust; more generous with their gifts than the cruel seasons deserved. And now they art dead as young and fair...

“Oh, for God’s sake,” she hisses, cutting me short in the middle of the garden centre. “Can we just pick a Christmas tree?”

So, we’re back...

Six months after our first foray into plant keeping saw us adopt a handful of petunias, we reckon we’re just about mature enough to take custody of a Norwegian spruce.

Well, I say Norwegian spruce, I mean plastic Taiwan imitation. But even they take a bit of looking after.

Certainly they take a bit of choosing. Who knew there were so many moral quandaries when picking a bit of woodland for the corner of the living room?

Is it bad for the environment to go artificial, we wondered? Can it be ethical to chop a real tree down for decoration? In this austerity age can expenditure on something so ostensibly gaudy be justified? Ye Gods, should we have an angel or a star on top?

And so just when we’re getting bogged down in the detail; just when we’re thinking perhaps we’ve overstretched our own maturity to breaking point; just when we’re losing ourselves amid the moral minefield that has emerged, she spots an artificial tree for £9.99. And that’s the kind of ethical certitude neither of us can argue with.

A tenner, maybe, but it turns out we were had.

It’s only when we get home and unpack we realise when the box says ‘navy green’ it actually means ‘black’; and when it says ‘beautiful and realistic’ it actually means ‘well, what did you expect for a tenner, you cheapskates?’

There are entire branches missing. It peters out at the top rather than going to any kind of point. It tips precariously to the left – more so even than my family’s tree the morning after the infamous Christmas Eve when my brother tried to climb it and brought it crashing down. He was 23.

In any case, it’s a disappointment. And yet strangely...well, yeah, beautiful.

For sure it’s a bit rough around the edges but since when was that a bad thing?

It’s unique (or as unique as something mass produced can be); it’s an individual; it’s confident enough to slouch around rather than stand to attention; arrogant despite its flaws; dressed in its all-black outfit like an artificial pine version of Johnny Cash or Marlon Brando. (What’s he rebelling against? “Baubles, fairy lights, whaddaya got?”).

I like it, I declare. It’s a rock n roll Christmas tree. It’s an outlaw. A maverick. It don’t play by the rules.

It’s the kind of fella that, should it be invited to a Christmas party, would spend the first hour charming the guests, then the rest of the night doing their drugs and getting off with their wives before attempting to climb himself – just for giggles.

In short, my kind of tree.

Thou art young and fair...I say adding a dandy-like bit of tinsel where its neck might be.

“Oh for God’s sake,” she hisses. “Don’t get too attached, we’ll be throwing it out in a couple of weeks.”