This is a new thing for me. Until two years ago, I never had a Christmas tree of my own. What was the point? Well.
It's such a frivolous thing, but two years ago - when I decided to bother getting a Christmas tree for 'just me' - this represented a genuine shift in my attitude towards myself. I have an unexpectedly frugal streak, bordering on the puritanical (my parents both remain baffled by where this could have come from) and would sit in the cold and dark eating baked beans from a can (to 'save on washing up') if it were 'just me'. I'd lived in my house for years by that point and never once had a Christmas tree there. For years before that, I'd lived with an ex where we both agreed it was better just not to bother - which in retrospect speaks such sad, sad volumes.
But on the first Sunday in December two years ago, my friend Katherine and I went out together and each bought a small Christmas tree, bringing them back with much hilarity in a large taxi with an impatient driver. I was single, living alone, and I loved every minute of decorating the tree and drinking whisky by myself, singing along with Christmas songs.
Every evening, putting the Christmas lights on - and turning them off when I went to bed alone at night - brought me unprecedented joy. Having the tree gave me an excuse to have a Christmas drinks party, which got very out of hand and ended with me finding a bottle of cassis in the washing machine a few days later.
At the end of Christmas, dragging my own now near-dead tree to the recycling point at the park, felt like a huge achievement. Even sweeping up the needles afterwards brought me a low-key sort of joy.
Christmas tree day is now a tradition that makes me feel great about myself. I love it that I have a bag of Christmas decorations (mismatched and mostly from the charity shop) that I can pull out every year like a real grown-up.
Yesterday was sunny and I put on a very jolly jumper for the occasion. Because times have changed, I bought a bottle of non-alcoholic mulled wine and made this vegan Christmas tiffin, which I very highly recommend. Also, curiously, I recommend Batman Returns as a very, very jolly Christmas film.
The tree brought me a flash of joy when I got up this morning. I will spend the next month coming home every night in a state of terror that one of the cats will have pulled the whole lot over (again), and I'm delighted about it.
This year, in a new twist, I am actually looking forward to Christmas. For the first time ever, I have just decided 'fuck it' and I am going away. On Christmas Day I will be swimming in a lagoon in Iceland. I'm not sure I have ever looked forward to anything more in my life.