The tree is here. It is a six foot Nordman fir tree, picture perfect in its shape and scent, sitting happily in a wicker basket in the bay window. There is nothing about the Christmas tree I don't love.
The nestling of the lights deep within those bushy branches, breathing them in as we wind cable round needles.
The faffing required to get baubles evenly spaced and carefully placed.
"Is it straight?"
Stretching on tiptoes to get the star to the top.
Running through the cycle of epilepsy-inducing flashing light sequences until a gently glowing compromise is reached.
Actually, I take that back. There is one thing about the Christmas tree I don't love: photographing it. Why is it so beautiful in real life and so contrasty and grainy in pictures? Beyond my photographic capabilities, I'm afraid.
The tree and its companion wreath were sent to us for review by Pines and Needles, who deliver fresh trees across the UK. Our tree arrived a day later than expected, wrapped in a thick plastic bag. We unwrapped the package to find a very healthy and well-watered tree, requiring just a slight shave of the trunk to fit it into our bucket stand. The advantages of a tree being delivered, conveniently, to the door are obvious, but what about the disadvantages? When I buy a tree in person, I confess to being that person - the one who always has to look at just one more in the pursuit of the perfect shape. As the branches of our tree settled into the most pleasing triangle of green, it was clear that I couldn't have picked a nicer one myself. It arrived on the first of December (adding to the already frenzied excitement of the advent calendar) and has remained beautiful in the fortnight since.
The decorations are a mixture of bits and bobs collected over the years, plus the new ones from HomeSense and Snapfish, and a few I bought from IKEA back when all the shops decided it was Christmas (October). We have candy canes up and plan a gingerbread baking session in the week before Christmas, meaning this tree will evolve a little between now and the big day. The 2ft artificial garland is simply wrapped with clear lights and draped over the mantel, with a white amaryllis (that's peaked too soon) and a little gold paper Christmas garland. A similarly simple wreath adorns the front door, dressed just in white lights and a white ribbon.
What's on your tree this year? Where do you stand in the ongoing real/artificial debate? When does yours go up (and come down!)?
With thanks to Pines and Needles for sending us a tree and garland to review this year.