Having considered whether men and women can ever be friends, I’ve recently been reminded that it’s not just when it comes to matters of sex and friendship that there’s a small battle raging between the sexes – especially during the festive season.
Last weekend saw Pa Blonde and I head out to a local farm shop to select a suitable Christmas tree for Blonde Towers (and, whilst we were there, blow a small fortune on a shoulder of Gloucester Old Spot pork and a vast amount of cheese. Oh, and some mushroom ketchup. Plus ça change…). Having wandered, and pondered, and debated the merits of the various types of tree, I found myself returning home with a 6ft Nordic spruce, ready to festoon to my heart’s content.
Having forgotten to ask for The (usefully tall) Writer’s help in lugging the decorations down from the loft when he was last at mine, I scooted up the ladder into the attic, miraculously making it back down in one piece, with three large blue Ikea bags full of stuff covered in glitter. Three large Ikea bags, that is, full of red and gold stuff covered in glitter. Because, in my house, Christmas has a colour scheme.
The wreath on the front door is largely golden in amongst the foliage; there are golden and red baubles displayed in tall glass vases; golden garlands around picture frames and up the stairs; and holly berries atop the dresser in the kitchen.
And the same colour scheme applies to the tree: it’s decorated with red baubles, and golden beads; red teardrops and golden lights; and topped with a red and gold star.
It sounds a trifle dull, perhaps, but the effect is warm and glowy and Christmassey, and it’s my house, and I like it, damnit. If my mother had her way, she’d do the same – hers tends to be a snowy silver theme, but when she’s left to tree-decorating devices there is, at least, a theme.
Not so when it comes to Pa Blonde’s aesthetic Christmas ideals.
Whilst I’m definitely in the white light camp, he’s a fan of as many colours as you can get on a string. If they flash, so much the better; and if they flash in time to the horrid, tinny carols they pump out in best Christmas muzak fashion, then he’s the happiest of festive bunnies. And trees, when Pa Blonde gets his way, well, they aren’t so much decorated as they are the victims of abuse; the spoils of decades’ accumulation of stuff thrown indiscriminately from point blank range. Be it 70s-style wicker stars; blue tinsel; or the loo roll-and-cotton wool sheep I made at nursery school some twenty-five years ago, it’s all there under the watchful eye of an aging angel whose wings look as though they’d be less useful in flight than a leaden weight.
Every year chez Blonde, there’s a heated debate between Pa Blonde on one side, and Ma Blonde and I on the other, about whether this is the year of The Beautiful, or The Everything, like we’re living in some mini warped version of the Chinese zodiac. And every year, there’s never agreement. So every year, there are two trees.
There’s one in the sitting room, covered tip to bucket in singing lights, and things that used to be discernable as something that might once have been festive but they’ve been hanging round so long that no one knows any more, and little angels who’ve lost one wing but are there because it’s “equal opportunities decorating”. The other, in the dining room, is understated and elegant, twinkling quietly under its layer of wintery silver style. It is quite possibly what’s kept my parents married so long, despite such strident differing Christmas aesthetics.
Still, the less said about the two 3’ LED reindeers on the front lawn, the better…
In which I return to the small things.
2 days ago