KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how saggy are your branches? Quite considerably, I’d imagine, especially if you were one of those people who couldn’t keep their festive powder dry this year and put your tree up more than a fortnight before the Big Day. Because of the tradition in this country of putting trees up at weekends, there are people out there — and you know who you are — who are right now staring at the pathetic skeleton of a tree that they put up A WHOLE MONTH AGO. If you are amongst them, then you might want to take note now that Christmas Day will fall on a Wednesday this year. If you can’t hold your nerve, then you might want to consider going the artificial route.
It’s not an option for us, though, because I’ve always found artificial Christmas trees profoundly depressing. If you’re going to have an artificial tree, then you might as well wrap up empty shoeboxes to place underneath it and order a rubber turkey. Even now, looking at the shadow of a tree that has ceased to be, I still can’t contemplate unfolding an annual approximation of a tree and fluffing it a fortnight before Christmas. It’s this sort of thing that would have Prince Albert — the man who brought the Christmas tree to these parts — turning in his grave, if his rumoured body piercing didn’t make such a manoeuvre difficult.
Besides, I would argue that a real Christmas tree is essential for keeping the dramatic tension in a marriage. One of my favourite ever stories involves a neighbour — a mildmannered, reasonable, Clark Kent sort of a fellow — venturing out of his house one morning in December and cheerfully hailing another (male) neighbour with the words, ‘I’m just going out to get the wrong tree.’ I know other (female) neighbours who have sent their unfortunate spouses back to Christmas-tree purveyors dragging a just- purchased tree behind them with a thick ear and instructions to get one that’s ‘fuller at the top’. In our own home — and I can only mention this now because it is several weeks after the event — we had the most serious argument we’ve had all year over our Christmas tree and, more specifically, the decorating (or lack thereof)
‘You’d think I’d be happy to see the sorry tree go, but a little part of me dies along with those falling pine needles’
of the same. Suffice to say that, in an unusually mild December, there were a couple of decidedly frosty mornings in these parts.
You might think, then, that I would be happy enough to see the back of the sorry tree, but the truth is that a little part of me dies along with those falling pine needles. You could say I am the NRA of Christmas trees: from my cold, dead hands, etc, etc. For the last few years, a local waste- disposal company has collected our tree for a small fee that goes to my GAA club. As it happens, there is very little that I wouldn’t do to raise funds for my club (though if the organisers of the white-collar boxing are reading this, then the answer is still no) but a few weeks ago, the club sent around a mail to say the tree would be collected on Saturday 5th, a whole 48 hours before etiquette dictates that it has to be dragged into the front garden. To me, getting rid of the Christmas tree yesterday would have been the equivalent of Mary and Joseph packing up and heading for home before the Three Wise Men had even shown up. I will agree that the festive season sometimes starts too soon, but that is no reason to snip away at the other end of it. It. Is. Still. Christmas. Which means that my GAA club’s coffers will be down a fiver this year.
It also means that we now have no way of getting rid of our lovely, briefly divisive, saggy Christmas tree. Growing up, I once called on a friend at the end of January and found that their Christmas tree was still in place because, as his mother explained, ‘I just love it so much.’ I know how she feels. And while there is a fine line between unseasonal seasonal cheer and those slightly creepy people who appear in Take A Break magazine celebrating Christmas every day, I’m willing to take my chances for just a little longer. Besides, when the time comes, I see that Christmas tree-throwing is a sport growing in popularity. And presumably, if you really want to work on that postChristmas upper-body strength, then there is always the option of tossing your spouse into the air, still attached to its withered trunk.