Setting the scene:
It is late on twelfth night (though I know some would argue as to when exactly that is) and the beautiful Christmas tree has been denuded of its sparkle and glitz for another year. The baubles are packed in tissue paper, the tinsel is thrust in a bag and the lights are carefully wound up in the hope that they’ll work straight-out-of-the-box next year. All that is left is a 7 foot stick with dry pine needles dropping on the floor.
With children fast asleep upstairs my husband and I set to the task of removing the tree from the house without leaving a trail of destruction. Thankfully we have years of experience: the tree is set up by the french windows. A sharp jerk out of the pot, a struggle to find the back door key, a battle with the gale outside and voila! The tree is left, sad and neglected, on the decking at the back of the house.
Fast forward nine hours to this morning…
The dog barks to go out. As my husband has already left for work, I reluctantly drag myself from bed and slop my way downstairs. It is still cold and windy outside, but I’ve developed a nifty scheme for letting the dog out which involves shutting the door and watching her through the kitchen window until she reaches the grass, then running round to the living room to watch through the french windows. (This procedure is necessary to ensure she doesn’t run off – another series of stories all together!)
“What an amazing husband I have!” I think when I reach the back of the house, for the decking is clear apart from a few pine needles. In the 30 minutes he had awake and at home before work he must have not only got up, dressed, had breakfast, sorted everything for work, etc. but also dragged the tree round to the front of the house for collection next week. And in the dark. Wow.
Shivering, I wished he’d also put the dog out. But hey! He can’t be brilliant at everything.
About an hour later, when the children had exhausted the milk supply from the fridge, I opened the front door to get today’s bottle. Intrigued, I walked around the car to check on the tree.
It wasn’t there.
A moment to scratch my head. (But not a long moment, as hungry hordes called, and a tight back-to-school deadline loomed.)
I went to the french windows again, now it was daylight, but no: the tree had definitely gone. There was no obvious trail of pine needles away from its resting place last night. There was no sign that the dog had decided it was a particularly big and juicy bone that needed burying in the lawn. There was no evidence of it poking out from behind the garden shed. All there was were some needles in its last known resting place, and a big empty square garden.
And here the story rests…for now. A mystery to be resolved.