Sprucing up Christmas...

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION 'Monday 25 December, 9pm.'CHEVVY CHASE leads the gang through their festive shenanigans. Copyright: Channel 5 Broadcasting Channel 5 Stills: 0171 550 5546/5583/5509/5544/5501 Free for editorial press and listings use in connection  with the current broadcast of Channel 5 Programmes only. This image may only be reproduced with the written consent of Channel 5. Not for any form of advertising, internet use or in connection  with the sale of any product.
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION 'Monday 25 December, 9pm.'CHEVVY CHASE leads the gang through their festive shenanigans. Copyright: Channel 5 Broadcasting Channel 5 Stills: 0171 550 5546/5583/5509/5544/5501 Free for editorial press and listings use in connection with the current broadcast of Channel 5 Programmes only. This image may only be reproduced with the written consent of Channel 5. Not for any form of advertising, internet use or in connection with the sale of any product.
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So, Christmas... what a blast. Right?

The festive period always begins late for our household, on account of my other half being a dance teacher and the fact she has her annual shows at the end of November, with minor shows running deep into December, all of which means our house is full (and I do mean full) of costumes. Hundreds of them. All of which need sorting into sets, then hanging on rails, which themselves are transported hither and thither but finally, when the shows are over and done with, they are put back in the garage, which is big enough for two cars but now resembles the store room of some fancy dress shop.

A week before Christmas, we managed to expunge the house of costumes, at which point I drove down to Sutcliffe’s at the bottom of Farsley Town Street to pick up a Christmas tree. Owing to my late-in-the-season arrival, they had two sorts of tree left: short and bloomin’ humongous. The owner of Sutcliffe’s could sell sand to the Arabs and so he managed to sell me one of each. When I turned up with a 13ft tall Christmas tree, you should have seen the look on the wife’s face. I think she dubbed it a Grizwold moment, before asking, “Where’s that going?”

“In there,” says I, all hopeful and manly. Heck, if I can’t wallow in one hunter-gatherer moment a year, what’s the point?

Anyway, it went in, even though its uppermost branches were a bit... bent.

As I write this, it’s still up: proud, strong, stalwart and entirely too big for the room. I liked my dad’s reaction: “Now that’s a tree!” The kids also loved it and when the presents were all arranged beneath, it really did look the picture.

There was one slight hiccup, though. That came on Christmas Eve, or possibly it was Christmas Day, about 1am. The missus had just finished the process of finessing and we were about to turn in, when I announced I was going to pull the curtains on, to dissuade burglars (many moons ago we were burgled on Christmas Eve... which is another story entirely). My better half said not to bother but I persisted and valiantly pushed past the outermost branches of our giant tree, at which point the thing decided to fall over. Onto my wife. Eek. All I can say is it was one of those moments when you want the world to swallow you. ‘Oops’ didn’t really cover it. ‘Sorrrrreyyyy’ barely scratched the surface. Half an hour later, though, it was all back to normal.

Still, I’d love to have seen the look on Santa’s face when he walked in.

And the truth about Christmas is...

Sticking with the Christmas theme (and partly because nothing else has happened to me this year), I now know three things: 1) I have too many supermarket ‘bags for life’, 2) ducks are very messy animals... and 3) blue cheese is disgusting until you reach 40, at which point it becomes one of the most wondrous things in the world.

I dare say you will have you own waymarkers on ye olde map of life and doubtless so do I but these are the ones I can think of as I sit down to write this column, which I intend to be both amusing and informative (though not in equal measure - where would be the fun in that?!)

So, let’s address those certainties in turn... 1) Too many of those indestructible bags, on account of me totally forgetting to take bags to the supermarket and then at the checkout not wanting to pay 5p, or 10p, or whatever it is now, for something which will split before I get it out of the store. Ergo, I pay 50p for an immortal bag. Natch.

2) Ducks. We have three. Our garden now resembles (and smells/sounds a bit like) a farmyard.

3) Blue cheese. For some unknown reason, I now like the stuff, which is weird, considering I’ve spent my life up to this point assiduously avoiding it.

And the comedy genius moment of Christmas came after me and the missus finished wrapping presents at 4am, at which point, I said: “That’s a wrap.” I really did do that.