Christmas is not a favourite time of year so I have been making a concerted effort to escape it. Last year I spent the week in Malta, revelling in the light and a palette of ultramarine, turquoise, cerulean and ochre. On the day I left, I sobbed behind the tinted windows of the airport bus, shoulders heaving as I waved at the palm trees that lined the dusky promenade as if to see me off, hiccuping promises to return. But the pain of leaving for dreary, grey Ireland was not the only scar I carried for, on Christmas Eve, I had been attacked by a Christmas tree.
Dusk was falling as I strode home across the main square of Buggiba. I was not unaware of the Christmas Tree but, determined not to engage with the season, I stuck my nose in the air and picked up my pace. This meant the unmarked metal cables holding the tree in place, nearly invisible in the gloom anyway, were out of my line of vision. I charged straight into one so fast that not only did the cable saw painfully into one shin but managed to get its teeth into my second shin and would’ve made a go at a third shin if I had had one. It seemed the season was determined to engage with me. I managed to keep myself from falling but stumbled badly. In pain and shock I turned around to see what had assaulted me. I was distracted by a young family who had seen the unwarranted attack. The two young children, dribbly little chins hanging slack, liquid dark eyes round, stared at me while their parents faces crumpled in horror. Thinking that they were about to sympathise I started to say something about thuggish festive decorations but before I could speak they turned from me in disgust, belatedly covering the youngest child’s eyes from what they perceived as a wanton act of anti-Christmas violence. The Christmas tree had not attacked me in their eyes. I had attacked it. And in some metaphysical universe they were probably right.
I struggled to the nearest bar and applied some medication to my liver. The suddenness of the ‘attack’ had actually put me in shock and I was still shaking when I made it back to base and dressed my bleeding and bruised shin which would bear the diagonal slash of a scar for months afterwards. It was two days later when I passed that way again and I got a good look at what I had wrought. The Christmas Tree was as I had left it, tilting badly, its once proud star drooping to the left, cables sagging and tangled. The sight of it filled me with glee and my pride, badly dented from being publicly attacked by an inanimate object, began to restore itself. Christmas may have caught me on the hop but it would think twice about messing with me again.
Have a good day. Wherever you are…and watch out for those trees.