I’m no Scrooge, I absolutely love Christmas. But I HATE decorating the Christmas tree. Always have done. This is because I have the disadvantage of being the younger sister, therefore my creative input was always overridden. I would hang a bauble on a branch and feel a sense of satisfaction and pride that I was contributing to the splendour of the final, finished product. I had spotted the branch, I had chosen the bauble, it was just right, an artistic decision worthy of Damien Hirst. It was perfect.
Then I would turn my back to reach for another bauble. I was on a roll now. Nothing could stop me. Except my big sister, of course. As if in slow motion, I would turn to see an empty branch where my beautiful bauble had been. My artistic decision had been overridden and I was devastated. It was the end of the world. Cue tears and tantrum. I used to dream of a day when I was grown up and had my own Christmas tree and could decorate it exactly how I wanted to. I would sit in the corner sulking, watching my sister as she took complete creative control over the tree, envisioning my tree, which would be so much better than hers…
When my OCD was at its worst, decorating the tree became even more of a nightmare. Because I couldn’t hang a bauble on a branch just once. I had to keep taking it off and putting it back again until it felt right. Until I was sure the bauble’s position and the number of times that I had put it onto the branch would guarantee a happy Christmas free from death and destruction. The world’s balance was depending on my actions, my creative contribution. Therefore to disguise my ritualised tree decorating, I would do an odd little dance to the Christmas CD that we always listen to whilst we decorate the tree, taking each bauble off and putting it back again in time with the rhythm to each song.
‘Kay, what on earth are you doing?’ my sister would ask, snatching the bauble mid-ritual and placing it somewhere else, causing the onslaught of a panic attack. It just wasn’t worth it. Christmas trees are too much hassle. Too many cooks spoil the broth. One day I’ll have my own tree, and everything will be in perfect alignment, perfectly symmetrical, and everything will be right with the world.