... I went out foraging into the Dark and Scary Forest (aka 'Auchan', a supermarket that everyone here has their own beautiful horror story about) and wrestled the masses at the tills to bring home a Christmas tree.
Except, it's not a Real Tree.
For I have caved, dear reader. After years of saying 'the real thing, or nothing' I have decided that 'nothing' is just too dreary for words.
Why 'nothing'? Well, we leave Moscow for 3 weeks over the break, which makes getting a real tree not only impractical but - bearing in mind the Russian 'Christmas' is two weeks after ours, so live trees don't go on sale until just before we leave - inconvenient. Plus, the fierce heating here destroys all living plants in the winter (at least, the ones that I come into contact with, anyway) and I can just imagine the effect that coming back to the remains of a dessicated tree would have on a family already battling with the post-Christmas blues. It doesn't bear thinking about, really, so for the last 4 festive seasons we've been Christmas-tree-less.
No more, though; faced with yet another year of trying to make decorations dotted around the house look sparkly rather than sad, today I went out and bought a 150cm high monster (ahem) for Potski Mansions.
I had told the Boys that I would be buying a tree, along with the fact that it would be artificial, but of course that 2nd fact had gone in one ear and straight out the other. Consequently, when they were presented with a frankly unimpressive box when they got home from school, questions where asked.
"But how did you get it home?" from Boy #1. In the car, I replied. "What, the whole tree?" "Well - yes. That is the whole tree, in that box, there."
There was a moment of silence.
"What do you mean, exactly? The whole tree - in that box?" Boy #1 couldn't quite believe it. "Um. Yes. But don't worry - it will be much bigger once we've put it together."
Boy #2 stepped up. He held up a hand, calling for calm. Thank god someone was taking charge... I watched him as the disbelief on his face began to transform into something else. Could it be...
"Wait a minute. Do you mean... we get to build a tree? Fantastic! I'm going to the kitchen to get the scissors so we can unwrap it!"
Yes. Delight. That was it.
He's not known as The Engineer for nothing.