Yesterday was tree decorating day Chez Allan. I had been very much looking forward to it - being Baby's first Christmas and all that.
For various reasons the last few years have not made for the most joyous of festive seasons. In 2007 my father-in-law died six weeks before Christmas and hubby's then firm was hit by the impact of the credit crunch leaving us as a one income family by the time the big day rolled around.
Last year I was still in the throws of the vomiting bokes of hyperemis and the newspaper industry was being hit by the credit crunch with the prospect of seven job losses at the Journal.
These were not happy times.
So this year I want it to be different - and I am probably putting a lot of pressure on myself to make it so.
I even wanted the putting up of the Christmas tree to be just so. so the boy and I went to the wonder that is Matalan (or Mataland as Joseph calls it - as if it is some wondrous magical place) and bought some silver decorations.
We then called past the local garden centre - and I saw the trees.
I have never had a real tree. I think I was permanently traumatised by the John Denver classic 'Alfie the Christmas Tree' and didn't want any other trees ever to be cut down in the name of Christmas.
But then, I've also seen Friends where Phoebe says all trees have the right to fulfil their Christmas destiny.
And I saw the tree - and I wanted it. And I went home to hubby (who does exist) and we discussed it and we went with great jollity to buy a real tree. (I HATE our fake tree, for the record... it is a pain in the arse to put up and take down and one of these days I'm just going to burn it).
Coming home like happy lumberjacks we sat the tree in its stand and fetched the children to help with the decorating.
Cara wanted to eat the lights.
Joseph just wanted to choose which decorations would go on his 2ft tree that he has in his bedroom.
Cara started to scream, presumably because I wouldn't let her eat the lights.
The boy started to throw a blue fit because he hadn't remembered his 2ft tree was golden and "real trees aren't golden" (Yes, they are, I told him. They grow special gold trees in the gold fields of Christmas land...yes, I am ashamed of my lies).
I swore as the baubles fell off the tree while hubby urged me to give the tree time to rest (Why? Had it been running a marathon?)
Then the baby decided she wanted something more than lights to eat so while I was trying to sing Christmas carols with a still vaguely huffy Joseph, hubby brought in her dinner and PUT THE TELEVISION ON to (wait for it) watch a documentary about SEA LIFE!!!
Those of you who know me at all, know that I am an absolute and total phobia about sea life.
This was not going well.
Eventually, baby fed, boy ensconced in his room over decorating his magical tree from the Gold Fields of Christmas Land and husband taking refuge in his office I placed our star on top of our very first real tree. It wobbles at a precarious angle.
But it is still lovely.
And the baby, now fed with non-electrical goods looked entranced.
All in all - family rows, over fractious children and disturbing documentaries - yes, it is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas.