Every year the search for the broken bulb ritual would take place, all the kids sitting on the floor screwing and unscrewing bulbs until finally the lights would come on, or as dougal in Fr Ted says ‘ on, off, on, off, on…’ Its not until later in life that this ‘tedium’ meant that we all sat round in close proximity, no tv, no texting, no nintendo ds, no nothing and worked towards a common goal. A couple of hours just sitting round talking and laughing and telling stories. Often the fixing of the lights was never achieved so it was off to Woolies the next day for another 3 sets of 120 lights to replace the one set of 120 we hadnt fixed. Another 2 sets ‘just in case.’
With my led never blow sets of lights we’ll never have that again and the odds of getting people to just sit and stare at the lights for a while is slim.
Putting the Christmas Tree up is a ritual and one I have to admit I havent always observed, when I havent put it up with some bah humbug excuse like ‘I’ll be away most of the time’ or ‘too busy’ or some other such pathetic excuse, even putting it up for one day always seems to be magical, seems to add warmth and light to a room. Even if its just one of those wee stick on trees you get for cars, theres some sense of achievement. Oh sorry left out point 3 from my dad, you can never have too big a christmas tree.
Ok you can. A load of years ago a very good friend of mine broke his leg in an accident before Christmas, he always had a real christmas tree but as his leg was in plaster he couldnt get one himself and wondered if I could get him one. Of course I could, the honour of getting someone elses tree!
I applied my dads principle of buying the biggest tree I could get (within budget of course). Naturally it was too big to fit in the car and it was back in the days of army checkpoints across Belfast. So when you are stopped by a British Army soldier at a checkpoint and he asks. ‘What is in the boot’, you do fear for the whole English race when even a blind man on a galloping horse can see the 9 foot christmas tree sticking out of the back of it. He didnt see the funny side of it when I pointed it out. Luckily enough the policeman did and I left with my teeth intact.
20 mins it took us to get the tree in the front door only to find out that the tree was two feet taller than the ceiling height. Suddenly that soldier didnt seem soooo stupid after all.
My mate told me not to worry as he would just saw two feet off it. Of course being an engineer he measured the height difference and marked it off on a measuring tape.
10 mins and a lot of sawing later he reappeared with the tree.
It was inch perfect, floor to ceiling allowing for floor fixings, perfect height.
He was so proud of himself that it did pain me to say that traditionally you take extra height off the bottom of the tree, not the top. It looked like it was just growing through the ceiling with no space for the angel. Still not to worry, I’m sure the army would offer him a job.
Not having kids of my own my loft is usually the repository for all my nephews, godchildren, pseudo relations kids Christmas presents. Im often called for ‘sticker’ or ‘battery’ duty. (putting stickers on things or putting batteries in them. Yes I’m often the one to blame for wendy houses being partially assembled upside down, toy motorbikes with the wing mirrors on the wrong way round or in the worst case scenario a radio controlled truck with the all the stickers on upside down because thats how I was reading the instructions. So kids, if you are reading this some of your presents have been in my loft since August and if I dont look carefully enough, some of them will also be there next August.
11:30pm on Christmas Eve to 1am on Christmas morning is a magical time to be driving. If you havent ever experienced this then I thoroughly recommend it. The roads are full of cars with half built bikes, dolls houses and various other large cardboard boxes hanging out the back of cars. Good job the checkpoints arent there any more, I’d hate to have to explain half the stuff sticking out of rear windows, sunroofs and tailgates.
Dont ever drive the period 6am-9am on Christmas morning as the roads are full of new bikes, scooters, skateboards, radio controlled cars etc.
Whenever I get stressed in shops or traffic at Christmas, whenever family issues get annoying, whenever it seems like too much hassle or too commercial I think of that wee girl and her family. I hope they had a good one.
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