Christmas is now well past. I hope it was a good
one. On this belated festive
theme I once toyed with the idea of growing Christmas trees on a small
- a small scale business venture really - but never got round to it in
end. Maybe when I retire? There's money in Christmas trees, you see.
Mind you, many years ago when we lived in a small house with a garden that
backed onto woods I took it upon myself to acquire a fresh Christmas tree
straight from the ground. It's not a good idea to go digging up trees
willy-nilly of course, oh no, far better to pay fifteen pounds for a dead
rootless one instead, but I was young, impoverished and full of
for such a dastardly deed; and anyway it was self-sown, on land soon to be
quarried and nobody would ever know, or so I reasoned at the time. I
replant it after the festivities were over of course, though not in the
spot to be bulldozed by the quarry men, oh no, certainly not, what a
but in a secluded area of the garden to be re-used again next year. That's
re-cycling for you!
So one afternoon in mid-December I set off into the gathering dusk with a
spade in one hand, a torch in the other, and a mind full of improbable
excuses just in case I was unlucky enough to meet anyone else out and
at that time of day.
As I wandered gaily along (looking for all the world like a suspicious
character about to dig up a Christmas tree to lug back to the fireside) I
other shadowy figures in the half-light of that crisp afternoon. We passed
each other like ships in the night, heads down, silent, possibly the odd
Highland grunt of acknowledgement, possibly not, but all seriously intent
anonymity. They were "at it" in the woods, doing the same as me, Christmas
time was looming, the spades were out, the goose was getting fat. I even
spotted a tree in the distance bobbing along under its own steam with a
peculiar loping gait. Surely, I reasoned, somewhere beneath that foliage
there must be a person with a spade, for how else could it move like that
how else could it move at all!
Once the tree was up, neatly positioned beside the fireplace and bedecked
festive spangly things, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the 'The
Bearded One' - Santa - who always appeared on Christmas Eve (between 6 and
7pm) sitting comfortably in the back of a pick-up truck dispensing
to the children of the district in exchange for a wee dram from the adults
the household. Ho, ho, ho.
By the time he'd reached our house many a lollipop had been dispensed,
a wee dram quaffed, and he'd subsequentially adopted the ruddy and
look of a festive beacon.
But gone are the days of jolly Santas in pick up trucks - more's the pity
although in certain parts of the country, prior to Christmas, the odd
wandering conifer can still be spotted in the gathering dusk of a late
afternoon. Some traditions never die out, do they? Not completely.
(copyright Patrick Vickery 2002)