We have our Christmas tree all dolled up and twinkling at least a week earlier than normal. It's 'The Amelie Effect' - no one should underestimate the persuasive powers of a three year old! As you read this I hope you have a nice cup of tea and a plate of mince pies to hand - I'll try to be brief but I'll probably ramble on a bit and I think you'll need sustenance to see through to the end!
We actually had the tree for a couple of weeks before decorating it and granddad had the bright idea to keep it fresh and hydrated by plunging the lower trunk into the margins of the garden pond. There it lay for over a week during which time we had very wet weather. Ever practical, and not wanting a dripping tree on the sitting room carpet, I suggested we might want to put it undercover to dry out before it came into the house. The tree was duly carried to the garage and propped up, still tightly encased in its mesh bag. That's when the toad was spotted! He slowly crawled out of the lower branches and headed towards the door. I didn't see the incident myself you understand - it was just recounted to me after said toad had been safely returned to the pond. Two days later, when Amelie helped carry the tree from the garage, was when the second toad made his appearance. Now granddad said it looked remarkably like the first one but I'm sceptical. One toad looks much like another and unless we've discovered some hitherto unknown species of Homing Toad I suspect this was a completely different individual.
The tree was carried into the house and ceremoniously positioned in a corner of the room. We didn't have to completely rearrange the furniture, just shuffle a few guitars out of the way and for once we didn't have to cut the top off to make it fit - a first for us!
We have a fair division of labour about these Christmas things - he makes the tree stand up straight and I decorate. So, why is it I ask myself that tree lights work when you test them in a heap on the floor but 5 minutes of careful arranging later there's nothing doing? Time to pause for lunch while he wiggles the wires, changes the fuse and fiddles with the bulbs.
May as well have a mince pie or two while we're waiting. These are from the third batch I've made so far - don't suppose any will make it to Christmas!
Still no sign of life in the lights so, not to disappoint our grandchild, we carry on regardless with the baubles and all the naff but sentimental bits and bobs. That's when we spotted the frog! Now I love wildlife as much as anyone but I prefer it out of doors rather than in my sitting room. There ensued a lot of squealing (me) and hilarity (them) as the by now warm and very lively creature was corralled into a corner. It involved crawling on bellies with head torches strapped to foreheads to encourage him from behind the grandfather clock and finally to capture him under the cupboard. David Attenborough would have been proud as the captive was released safely back to his more natural habitat.
This is the stuff that family memories are made of. I have learned from this episode and thought I'd pass on a few words of wisdom;
1 NEVER immerse a Christmas tree in a garden pond. Find a bucket - it's easier in the long run!
2 NEVER expect tree lights to work on the tree even after you've tested them just minutes before.
3 NEVER go barefoot in your sitting room unless you are confident there's no risk of frog and toad infestation.
4 NEVER attempt to put a new set of tree lights on after all the other decorations are already on the tree. Aaarggh!
Apart from that it was all good fun!
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday and I hope you are looking forward to a creative 2016!
And don't forget you have until December 31st to send me your favourite Art Diary page - I'm loving seeing what you've all done!
Happy Christmas Everyone!