There’s a potato under the Christmas tree, and two more in the washing machine. My daughter’s put herself in charge of potato distribution – I haven’t enquired as to her logic.
There’s a teddy bear and a pair of fairy wings on the kitchen floor.
There’s a helicopter on top of a shoe box on top of my CD collection.
On the living room floor, there is; deep breath; torn out pages from a London A-Z, half the contents of a packet of baby wipes, pulled out and strewn about, a hole punch, the pieces of seemingly every game and puzzle we own, my daughter’s discarded tights and all the tree decorations Flora persistently removes as I try to re-hang them.
The Christmas tree is a wondrous, pleasing sight, kindly chosen and delivered by my friend Felicity.
“Can we put the tree outside now?” Leo asks. “It’s where my trench needs to go.”
“Don’t you think a Christmas tree might be more…Christmassy…than a trench?” I suggest.
“Don’t you even remember?” Leo looks at me in despair. “The Christmas Day truce?”
“Well, yes, but…,” I have an idea. “They had Christmas trees in the trenches.”
Leo fixes the tree with a suspicious look. “That was the Germans. This is a British trench.”
“The British had them too,” I cross my fingers. “Because of Queen Victoria.”
Leo gives me a long look, which I interpret as him being pretty sure I am making this up, but deciding to indulge me because he quite likes the tree too.
The Christmas tree remains, but around it is a ‘festive’ trench, post heavy bombardment, constructed of the sofa cushions and every single thing that was previously in my airing cupboard.
Right now my son is at school and my daughter is at her pre-school’s Christmas party. It is the last few hours of child free time before 2016. I have a takeaway cappuccino & a slice of chocolate cake, and in the cafe on the high street there was a queue of other mothers with the same thought.
I could do something to push back the tide of chaos and squalor. I should, and in a moment I probably will. But I know this; there’s virtually no point.