It’s my daughter Phoebe’s first Christmas and so I am seeing this festival through a child’s eyes. And it makes me realise how deeply odd our customs are. We’ve all come to accept them as normal due to year’s of repeated exposure to them. It’s like some kind of Stocking-hausen syndrome (a lot of you aren’t going to get that and those that do won’t like it, but I think it might be my best joke of 2015 – at least we can all agree on that).
The look of confusion on her face when we brought a tree inside was priceless. She’s only 10 months old but knows that trees belong outside. Why had we turned the world upside down in this way? Then we started decorating it with baubles and lights and I could see that if she was able, she would be calling social services to have us taken into care.
We all just accept that in December we lug a tree into our homes, leave them to dry out in a warm room until all their green bits turn brown and drop off and then dump its skeleton out into the street, presumably as some kind of grotesque warning to the other arboreous life-forms in the vicinity. None of the trees know what the Christmas trees did wrong, but it must shit them up good and proper. No wonder they always stand still and try not to draw any attention to themselves. And are constantly losing their leaves in autumn as the stress of approaching Yuletide gets to them.
But what we are doing is crazy. It doesn’t make it less crazy because we all do it. It makes us more crazy.
I am not directly part of the tree genocide this year, though only accidentally. We’d only wanted a small tree that we could put somewhere out of harm’s reach of baby’s grasping fingers. I’d spotted some tiddlers at the supermarket. But when I went to pick one up, I discovered the tree was still growing in a pot of soil. It was a bit too heavy to comfortably carry home. But I liked the idea of not being culpable in tree murder, in case a Planet of the Trees scenario ever develops which should mean our tree overlords might spare me, so it was worth the struggle.
Plus there was the challenge of keeping this tree green and healthy to potentially use again. A few years ago I wouldn’t have even countenanced the possibility, knowing my limitations. But I am nearly 50 and have successfully kept alive two cats, a baby and my relationship with my wife and consequently feel like a god and that anything is possible.
In reality I suspect the tree will be dead before Christmas. But at this time of year we have to dream.
As I lugged the tree home, like some kind of vegetarian hunter/gatherer of old, I passed the Westfield Christmas grotto, which controversially has a Shrek theme, in a grotesque commercial perversion of the St Nicholas myth. Shrek is nothing to do with Christmas. I am pretty certain there was no Shrek at the original nativity, though maybe he bought the myrrh (embalming fluid is such an odd gift choice for a baby).
The gangway out of the gaudy mismatch of conflicting mythologies had a sign saying “Exit”. Why hadn’t they called it a “Shrexit”? Idiots. Admittedly that might create problems in an emergency as people would be unable to understand what the sign said and burn to death. But it’s a good enough joke to justify a few casualties.
The new Star Wars is out and it’s everything I hoped it would be. I don’t want to give too many spoilers but I can’t keep it to myself. It’s three hours of Luke Skywalker making tender love to an ewok, whilst Chewbacca and Hans Solo observe, occasionally shouting encouragement. It’s extremely graphic, but it’s still less disturbing than that Nespresso ad with George Clooney and Jack Black.