Sunday 22 December 2013

Christmas twig

I was taking, I suspect, the high moral ground about Christmas songs.  Must be less Tannenbaum judgmental!  The first Christmas we spent together was two weeks after The Boy was born back in the 1970s. We'd rented a tiny garden flat over-looking the East Pier at Dun Laoghaire and had very little left after the rent (£60 pcm, as you ask) was paid.  But things were much simpler then and the spuds, carrots and cheese we lived on didn't cost much.  On the 23rd we hadn't a tree, partly because the only ones left were motheaten-scrawny and mostly because there was no room - it was either a tree or a table to eat the dinner off.  So on the morning of Christmas Eve I sneaked out into the garden and sawed a small branch off a shrubby tree that had struggled out of the cinders and broken bottles to a meagre existence up against the back wall.  I brought this back inside and jimmied it up so that, if you squinted, the twig looked like it was growing through the wall from outside.

We were the first of our circle to try a spot of reproduction and our friends had been generous to the infant: some stuffed toys and a few plastic knick-knacks, as well as some very gratefully received small clothing.  The toys were looted and re-purposed as tree-ornaments and I think we may have cut some other stuff out of cartridge paper.  I know a red plastic key was detached from a teething ring and hung up and some unlikely creature finished up on the highest point to act the fairy.  I won't belabor the point but our humble make-do Christmas had something in common with an earlier event where a manger was re-purposed as a cot.

Red Key still with us
So that became our tradition: wherever we were in the run-up to Christmas I went out and cut a branch off a tree somewhere and strung it up in a corner of the living room.  The tree's roots were sufficiently developed that the lost branch could be replaced with a few month's photosynthesis during the following growing season.  This is not true of the misfortunate, exploited noble fir (Abies procera) which is the usual Christmas Tree, and has a single use life-time. It is a metaphor for all that is wrong about our current economy - buy something; use it once; throw it away; buy another; money is made and bugger the planet. For several years since we moved up the mountain we've left the twig up (it's all good fun until someone loses an eye) after the decorations have been boxed up  . . . and it's been still up the following December. But I'm getting old now and I've passed this baton down a generation.  Accordingly, during a gap between the blustery showers yesterday, Dau.II went out with a pruning saw and, in consultation with her mother, brought back a horizontal hazel (Corylus avellana) branch.  It's still got catkins, so is wholly suitable as a regenerative metaphor for the turn-of-year.  We're waiting for the return of Dau.I today to decorate it.

1 comment:

  1. what a great tradition...I just shared with my dau ii and got a frosty reception however...maybe when they've flown? those carrots probably cost more in the early 70's than they do at the mo in lidl mind you who would have thought the makings of a nice warming wintery veg soup for € there's a blog awaiting to be written