Deck the Halls - preparing our home for Christmas.

I am ashamed to admit that I am a bit of a control freak. I don't like people helping in my kitchen, and even have the urge to re-hoover when the children have been good enough to run the vacuum round for me.

This urge to ensure things are done my way means I even find it difficult to let the children help me with my Christmas decorations.

We put up our tree this week and the younger ones were bouncing with excitement, desperate to dress it. My older one was less interested - in fact he had fallen asleep on the sofa. Good. One less person to "help".

I let the little ones hang baubles willy-nilly and listened careful as they advised me on the placement of lights. I lifted the youngest up to place his choice of angel on top of the tree. I did this fairly easily because I knew full well that when they had gone to bed I would rearrange it.

I can't bear it if two baubles of the same colour are too close together or the lights are unevenly spaced. I know-it's weird. I understand it's not important in the grand scheme of things but it would drive me mad having to look at it not done "right" so this is the way I deal with it.

They don't seem to have noticed that the tree looks slightly different today. Well, to be honest I only tweaked a few bits and, I'm proud to say, resisted the urge to swap the dodgy white angel for the more tasteful vintage-y one. The children took the "no tinsel" news very well too (I hate tinsel unless it's wrapped round my neck at a party and I'm dancing drunkenly and singing along with Noddy Holder) We draped the tree with ribbons instead and all agreed it looked lovely.

Arranging the rest of the tat ornaments round the house was easier. The children were just happy to see their home being transformed with all the little bits and pieces - jingle-bell stars, wreaths on the doors, bunting and all the bits which over the years have built up into our family's unique collection of Christmas ornaments.

I'd like to think they'll remember at least some of the pieces we put out every year when they are adults with children of their own. I remember when I was a child we had a little fabric Chinese lantern ornament I loved to carefully unfold and hang. I wonder if my mum winced every time she saw I'd dragged out the totally un-Chritsmassy red, yellow and gold thing out yet again! We had some mad birds too which I wish I had for my tree now - but I think she's possibly still putting them on her tree  2000 miles away in Cyprus.

In a mad crafty moment a few days ago I sprayed a branch silver and potted it to decorate with the little felt decorations I have been making with friends and the children. Yes! I let the children help! I even let them choose which branch they hung their decorations on. So maybe I'm not such an unfit mother after all? Our indoor "winter tree" takes pride of place opposite the front door so is the first thing visitors see when they step in.

Although we have the Christmas tree up quite early I save my last bit of Christmas decorating til quite late in December. A few days before Christmas I will brave the cold in the garden and gather lots of holly and other greenery to make garlands. Obviously I will do this alone with no help!

I love decorating the house for Christmas but you can be sure of one thing. I won't ever be in any danger of earning bad luck by leaving decs out past 12th night - by the end of Boxing Day I'm fed up with the clutter and want it all packed away until the next year.

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