It’s the fancy trees on the telly that do it. Even BBC Breakfast is adorned by a beautifully manicured tree stylishly decorated with chic baubles and minimalist lights. The crowning glory is a star, or a fairy, standing completely upright.
In the corner of the room lurks our tree. Now it is a handsome thing, no doubt about it, but I can’t help but look at it and wonder if someone has broken in during the night and gone ten rounds with our fir, chucked up more tinsel over it, then took the fairy out and gave her a darn good night on the tiles with all the champagne, Buckfast and Jaegerbombs she could consume before bringing her home just before dawn to resume her post, hiccupping, slurring and standing distinctly slanted at the top of the tree.
No matter how hard I try, a stylish Christmas tree is beyond me. I bought magazines this year, that’s how desperate I was for inspiration and guidance. All it brought was a fresh world of pain and anxiety. “Is Your Tree Tired?” Jings, I don’t know. How can I tell? “Does Your Tree Fit Your Personality? Check Our Compatibility Test.” I’m just going to decorate it, not date it.
And my favourite: “Peter Andre’s Tips For Trimming That Tree”, which featured a young man clearly basted for a barbecue and then irradiated, then varnished, standing next to a tree so laden with lights the National Grid was going into meltdown. It looked like Blackpool on a stick.
Beside him stood the biggest fairy I have ever seen, awash with glitter and false eyelashes and an enormous bosom. Good luck getting the top twigs to hold that up, I thought, and then I realised it was that woman he used to be married to, who was once called Jordan, until I guess the country threatened legal action for defamation and she went back to being Katie.
I admit, I read that one in the dentist’s waiting room.
Fir he’s not a jolly old fellow
It’s the same battle every year. We drive out to the Christmas tree emporium and view what looks like the aftermath of The Dunsinane Incident.
He suddenly announces he wants a plastic tree. He doesn’t. He just says it to raise the stress levels to Donner and Blitzen levels. Without fail he’ll gravitate towards something white, shiny and glittery, which looks like the sort of tree they’d put up on the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
There then follows what they used to call at the height of the Cold War a frank and free exchange of views, ending in me marching back to the trees in a distinctly Brezhnev manner. Now, in my young day, you got a tree and that was your lot. Now, however, one must choose which type of tree one requires. A Siberian Spruce? A Nordman Fir? A Noble Fir? To be honest, I felt a bit intimidated by that one. Apparently, there are no Working Class Firs.
A Blue Spruce? I have no idea what that is, but it’s Christmas, there will be a family audience, so let’s keep it clean.
Eventually we settled on the Nordman. Correction, I settled on the Nordman and he put it in the car.
Have mistletoe but no whine . .
Wherever you are and whatever tree you put your pressies under, I hope you have a great time.
But remember, enjoy Christmas responsibly. You don’t like the jumper with the light-up Rudolph? Thank graciously, put on, take off, and return after the Festives.
What if your sister-in-law referred to your outfit at Janice’s wedding as “flattering for your age. And size?” Smile, and hand the hag a chipolata.
Ach, it’s family, and you’re together. Spare a thought for those who aren’t and hug the sister-in-law. If you can get your arms round her.
Sully’s always made his Merk
Actually, I know what happened to the fairy. It’s Sully the cat, who has started to recover from his eye infection just in time to remember how much he hates her.
A few years ago it was a pair of matching straw Santas. He loathed them so much his first act every morning was to saunter into the room and disembowel the one on the left. My first act every morning was to sellotape Santa back together. Eventually I was left with a straw Santa and a taped-up FrankenSanta.
It all became too much and they had to go. Well, an eye kept falling out. Not the sort of thing one wants to see over dinner.
Sully switched his attention to the fairy. We don’t know why. We think it might because she had a natural list to the right and bore a passing resemblance to the young Margaret Thatcher.
Now she’s more like Angela Merkel, and sports a pronounced left-wing lurch. Who knew cats were so political?