Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

Le Dernier Mot - articles by Samantha David




      Things have got out of hand again but this time - honestly - it's not my fault.  I have only done my humble best and it's unfair of the Senior Partner to mutter about tree fetishes. 

      As everyone knows, the Mairie used to deliver sweet little Christmas trees to all the families in Moisson with kids.  About three weeks before Christmas I'd open the door to walk the dog and be faced with a dark green spiky forest on our doorstep.  Bad Boy Tombo already clambering through the branches, I'd drag it off to the cellar where it could rest in the cool and the dark until it was show time.

      But about 8 years ago the forest failed to materialise.  No tree.  Alphonse-le-Maire had gone on an economy drive in order to fund the new sewerage works.  The Mairie would still supply outsize trees for the church, the village hall, and the war memorial but the children of Moisson would have to buy their own trees.

      The Junior Members were despondent.  In their view, no tree meant no Christmas.

      "You won't get one, Mum..."

      "They're all got sold weeks ago, Mum..."

      "The only one left is bald..."

      "We may as well not have Christmas..."

      No problem.  Off I went with Bella's predecessor the redoubtable Dolly, to choose a tree from InterMarché and bring it home.  Which I duly did, proudly hauling in a tree the size of the Eiffel Tower.  The Junior Members were thrilled; their enthusiasm only increasing when we had to cut the top off it to make room for the fairy.

      "OTT, don't you think?" mouthed the SP with raised eyebrows.

      "Only one left!" I mouthed back.  "Got it cheap because Dolly widdled on it!"

      Imagine my face then two days later when I answered the door to find a repentant Alphonse-le-Maire on the doorstep clutching a Christmas tree. 

      "We have re-considered," he said, his nose pink with embarrassment.  "Les enfants de Moisson will have les sapins!"

      So we had two Christmas trees that year; one tasteful red and gold affair in the dining room and a second, rather more jolly, JM-decorated Norwegian giant smothered in disco tinsel in the sitting room.  Nightmare.  No sooner I had finished hoovering up the pine needles than the JMs started nagging for two trees again next year.

      "It was so cool, Mum!"

      "Come on don't be a drongo, Mum!"

      Oh all right, I confess, that part of it IS my fault.    Busy pulling dog hair off the carpet I shrugged and nodded vaguely. 

      "Hooray!" yelled the JMS.  "She said yes!"

      I thought they'd forget all about it, but no, as next Christmas approached they mounted a determined Two Trees Campaign which resulted in Three Trees because one of their Grannies took pity on them and sent them a large fake one complete with musical lights.

      Which is why I put it in the bathroom.  I just couldn't stand the thought of listening to the mechanical music tinkling night and day for the best part of three weeks.  At least the bathroom is a nice long way away from the kitchen - where I spend most of my Christmas.

      So it's true that Christmas here means a positive mountain-forest inside the house and it's true that there's a fourth tree outside the front door this year (Bernadette's husband bought her a tree but she wouldn't give it houseroom on account of her new carpet) but I honestly don't think any of this pathetic tale of weakness and manipulation is any reason for the SP to go around labelling me as a tree fetishist. 

      I'd say I'm just a bit green. 



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