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Christmas Reading

Average: 3.9 (28 votes)

So I’m sitting comfortably in my favourite armchair reading a surprisingly entertaining children's book about a magical skeleton detective whose job it is to save the world, with the help of his thirteen-year-old sidekick, when my wife bursts into the room with the energy and enthusiasm of a star going supernova and says brightly...

“Let’s put up the Christmas tree!”

Behind her, my one-and-a-half-year-old son, Jake, raises both arms joyfully and yells “Biddee!”, which apparently means that he approves of the idea.

I sigh and slowly close the book, confining Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain within its pages to wait for me to get back to them. Which will be, if all goes according to my wife’s plan, long after I’ve been hit twice over the head by a toppling tree, cut myself badly enough on a broken bauble to need at least three stitches, got tangled up in three thousand feet of fairy lights, and electrocuted myself a minimum of six times trying to get the evil little buggers to actually work. By which time, the world will be at the mercy of the malevolent Baron Vengeous, and my peaceful Sunday afternoon will have ceased to exist. Only my quick-thinking, lightning reflexes and general brilliance under pressure can save the day...

“Um...” I say. That’s about as far as I get...

Jake clasps both sides of his head in despair and says, “Oh no, oh no!” and my wife gives me a playful slap on the shoulder and says, “Come on! It’ll be fun! It’s nearly Christmas! We can put a Christmas CD on. We can wear our Father Christmas hats. It will be... jolly”.

“Jolly what?” I ask wittily.

“You’re such a Scrooge!” my wife teases, levering me bodily out of my chair.

“Scroo!” echoes Jake, evil little sidekick that he is.

And so I find myself dragging the Christmas tree out of the cupboard under the stairs, along with forty-five metres of hosepipe, a mosquito net, a bicycle wheel, about twenty-nine ‘lost’ screwdrivers and enough dust and fluff to stuff a mattress. It doesn’t matter how neatly I try to pack things away under the stairs – it always looks like a bomb has gone off the next time round.

“Yay!” cheer my wife and son, as I stagger into the living-room half an hour later, covered in cobwebs and dragging three sections of a tree behind me. To my dismay, they’re wearing identical Father Christmas hats. “Fa la lala la!”, says the CD player, cheerfully.

Now don’t get me wrong... I have an extraordinarily long list of things that irritate, annoy or aggravate me, but Christmas isn’t on it. I love Christmas...

I love Christmas dinners – roast turkey so tender and moist that the bird itself would voluntarily chop its own head off as long as it got to be cooked by my mother, crispy roast potatoes as golden as sunrise, baked cauliflower in a cheese sauce, Brussels sprouts, sage and onion stuffing, and a gravy richer than the Sultan of Brunei. Okay, so Christmas dinner also means having to put up with my cousin Keith, who knows a good thing when he smells it and invites himself over every year in order to stuff himself silly before reading every amazingly unfunny Christmas cracker joke out loud to all... but the peas alone make it worth it.

I love giving Christmas presents to everyone, even to Cousin Keith. I love Christmas crackers, and Christmas carols – especially The Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York’, which is the best song ever written. I love Father Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

And I love Christmas trees, with their twinkling lights and their medley of greens, reds and golds.

I love Christmas.

What I don’t like, though, is the bits that come just before Christmas. Shopping for Christmas presents is a nightmare – except for Cousin Keith, because I don’t really care what I get him, and he doesn’t really mind what he gets. Even buying Christmas crackers is a pain nowadays... do we get the cheap box of twenty-four that contain rubbish made of plastic and don’t go bang, two slightly more expensive boxes of twelve that contain rubbish made of tin and that might go bang, or twelve really expensive boxes of two that contain rubbish made of gold-coloured tin and plastic and that explode with such violence that everyone within a twelve-mile radius is rendered deaf until Easter? And while Christmas dinner is to die for, serving Christmas dinner is to kill for. Uncle Bob wants a leg, no stuffing, and lots of potatoes. Uncle Patrick wants a wing, lots of stuffing, no Brussels sprouts, a couple of crispy potatoes. Cousin Keith wants some of the breast and lots of gravy and sprouts. Aunt Jane wants a leg. Aunt Mathilda also wants a leg, so she’ll have Uncle Bob’s, if Uncle Bob will have a wing instead. Auntie Lynne will give Uncle Patrick her breast, provided that she gets a bit of stuffing in return. And so on, and so forth.

And then there’s the putting up of the Christmas tree...

“Aaaargh!” I scream, as the middle section of the tree slides neatly into the bottom part without waiting for me to move my hand out of the way first. The delicate web of skin between the thumb and the index finger of my right hand gets stuck in the trunk of the tree. I yank my hand away in a panic.

Yep... the delicate piece of skin that used to be between the thumb and the index finger of my right hand is still in the trunk of the tree. Tears spring to my eyes.

“Ow! Ow!! Aaaargh! F... f... f...” I whimper. Jake waits expectantly.

“... a lala la la, la la la laaaaaa!” my wife finishes, firmly. Jake turns away, disappointed, and pops a loose fairy light into his mouth. I lunge forward. The Christmas tree falls over...

And so on and so forth.

Four hours, three bandages and one mild electrocution later, the tree is up. And it looks beautiful. Lights are twinkling, tinsel is sparkling, baubles are glinting. The Pogues are singing. I’m wearing a Father Christmas hat and I’m standing under the mistletoe...

“Biddee!” yells Jake.


Merry Christmas!

By Danny


Link: Danny 'How to be Firm'