Christmas trees: Why do I always seem to buy one that is just too big? – Stephen Jardine

I believe size matters. For me the mantra is, the bigger the better. But not everyone agrees and down the years that has led to some uncomfortable situations.

Like the time the men actually selling the Christmas trees gave me a round of applause as I staggered away, hunched under the weight of the massive netted behemoth. I’ve always believed a lifetime of back problems started that day. Or rather the next day when I was forced to return it because it was too tall for the room.

Then there was the time the Christmas tree fell over during the night because it was “too heavy”… whatever that means. I’m still convinced it was nudged by Santa on a pre-Christmas recce and gravity had nothing to do with the crash or the resulting bauble carnage.

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You’d think I would learn my lesson but this year again the tree had to be swapped after the selected specimen failed to fit properly into the long-suffering stand. Personally, like police officers, I think Christmas tree stands shrink over time.

It’s as if I was the bloke in charge of selecting the Christmas tree for the Mound in Edinburgh or London’s Trafalgar Square in a previous life and somehow that has skewed my spatial perspective to the point that I cannot seem to understand that a ten-foot tree will never fit a standard eight-foot room. But that makes me sound unusual and, the truth is, Christmas tree greed is pretty common.

Writer James Delingpole shared an image on social media of a mammoth tree scraping the ceiling and completely filling his hallway. “I’m getting grief, is this fair?” he asked his followers. Even for me it looked a tad ambitious but they leapt to his defence with one suggesting the problem wasn’t the tree but the fact that he needed a bigger house.

In fact, Twitter is packed with pictures of trees bent over at the top or families members having to squeeze past to get from the lounge to the kitchen. There are also pages and pages of advice online for those who end up with a too big tree. Some tips are obvious. We all know measuring the space and then the tree before buying it is sensible, but then sensible is boring.

Much better are the suggestions for how to trim a tree down at home without making it look like someone has given it a haircut in the dark. The result is the perfect size and shape and the satisfaction of knowing that you can make a big tree smaller but not vice versa.

Stephen Jardine can't help but envy Edinburgh's Christmas tree on the Mound (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Stephen Jardine can't help but envy Edinburgh's Christmas tree on the Mound (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Stephen Jardine can't help but envy Edinburgh's Christmas tree on the Mound (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Right now, our tree is up, the lights are on and the weird collection of decorations we accumulate over a lifetime are in place for another festive season. It’s always good to see the sugar-plum fairy back but I’m never sure the Christmas crocodile I brought back from Africa deserves his hanging space.

For the next few weeks, it will bring much joy but in a month it will be out on the street, awaiting the fate of all trees that give us such good service. And then it will be just 11 months until I can choose another specimen. Just enough time to move house to somewhere with really, really high ceilings.



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