Here’s a piece I wrote for Eastern Daily Press a year ago (before the world changed) all about the strange joy of taking down the Christmas tree.
Taking down the Tree…
All things must pass.
It’s a truism that’s also the title of my favourite album by George Harrison.
You see, I am (a teeny bit) cultured after all.
Actually, if I’m being technical, all things don’t (in reality) pass – if ‘things’ are my 16-year-old self and the ‘passing’ in question was my GCSE Spanish exam.
Anyway, putting my deficiencies as a linguist to one side, I’m keen to discuss the end of the ‘Holiday Season’ and its most visible manifestation – taking down the tree.
Have you taken yours down yet? How do you feel? It’s difficult to describe, isn’t it?
Putting up a Christmas tree is a joyous occasion, filled with optimistic hope for fun times ahead. The tree will be the centre of merriment during this, most festive, time of year. Under its branches gifts find shelter until the morning of the 25th when they’re unceremoniously stripped of their wrapping paper and chucked into the two piles of present destiny: ‘Keepers’ and ‘Re-gifters’. It’s during their time under the tree that gifts are at their most exciting – perfect in their mysterious form. Like Schrodinger’s cat, they’re everything at once, the latest gadget, the perfect jewellery, the toy of the moment – it’s only when the box is opened that the spell is broken and the deodorant ‘gift set’ is revealed.
Anyway, all this special stuff – happens under the tree.
Christmas, in many ways, is like those impossibly perfect presents – our expectations are always too high, it can never live up to the hype. So, it can be a relief to get back to the normality of ‘everyday life’ post-Christmas, without all that pressure to follow one magical moment with another. Taking down the tree can feel cathartic, taking mine down certainly was.
A tree, as any parent of small children knows, is like a magnet for toddlers. With lemming-like disregard for their own safety, my two kids seemed to be exclusively focussed on pulling the prickly pine on top of them. My whole existence throughout all 12 days of Christmas has consisted of acting as a security guard for the tree – leaping into action at a millisecond’s notice before the whole thing toppled like a tinselly tower of Jenga. Thinking about it, bringing a dead tree into our homes for a month each year is just weird. Why did it start? The only reason I can think is this: the producers of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ invented a time machine and went back to the Victorian period, where they planted the seed of the tradition with Prince Albert, in order to ensure 1000 ‘hilarious’ tree-based clips for the home video show’s (endless) Christmas specials in the centuries to come.
I mean, what other explanation makes any sense?
I didn’t catch on camera any ‘Framed’ worthy clips with my tree this year, more’s the pity, the £250 reward the show gives would have been a welcome addition to my (sadly depleted) post-Crimbo bank balance. I was half tempted to pull the tree down on myself as I took it down – but I’m sure the producers would spot a faker a mile off.
So, it was with some sadness and some relief that took the tree down this week. Christmas over for another year, time to crank up towards Easter. But before all that, I have a task to complete: getting rid of unwanted presents.
First to regift, “How to pass GCSE Spanish” – 25 years too late. That boat has sailed.
Feliz año nuevo!Taking down the tree… Chris McGuire, Eastern Daily Press.