Sunday, 8 January 2012

Oh Christmas tree...

(or 'In Which Old Posts Rewrite Themselves')

Some sights that gladden my heart as I walk across Trafalgar Square on my way to the workplace:

1) groups of tourists circling the strange, bright ugliness of the Olympic countdown clock with a mixture of intrigue and confusion. (I am very adept at reading strangers' faces. It's one of my many gifts, along with being able to guess the phrase on Wheel Of Fortune before they've filled in a single letter.) How did it get here? What does it mean? Who is responsible? Basically, all the questions one might apply to Stonehenge, with any trace of wonder or admiration removed. Had the design been up to me, it would have been a giant effigy of Daley Thompson's face, with his moustache gradually lighting up like a Blue Peter charity-appeal totaliser the nearer we get to 27th July 2012.
2) the snaking queues of cold people (physically, not emotionally – they all look quite approachable actually) hoping for day tickets to the Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery. Sometimes I think it would be nice if a security guard just unhooked one of the smaller works of art from the wall and walked up and down the queue with it, giving the waiting punters an insight into the kind of thrills that were going on inside, and how all this standing around outside with mittens and a styrofoam cup of tea would be Totally Worth It. I've seen something like this done with a plate of anipasti outside Jamie's Italian, although it should be made clear to the future patrons of the National Gallery that it's not acceptable to eat the art.

However, on Thursday morning, I saw something that did not gladden my heart. Instead, and I'm paraphrasing the Eurythmics here, it left quite a chill.

Poor, poor Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, naked and fallen. Such an undignified end to a glamorous career. Couldn't they could have smuggled her away under cover of darkness and undressed her somewhere a little more private, instead of stripping her bare at 9.30 in the morning in front of an  audience of commuters, tourists and shivering art scholars? She's like an ageing actress from the golden era of Hollywood whose wig has been snatched away, revealing a lost little old lady underneath. Only greener and pinier. And so thin! A once-full figure now emaciated from a lifetime devoted to entertaining others (or from being urinated on by idiots in the early hours of New Year's Day).

I like tradition as much as the next fool – mince pies are great, for example; also, carols; burning witches, less so – but I think I have identified a fundamental flaw in one of our oldest social rituals. January needs an antidote to its dark hours and back-to-work gloom and dashed resolutions. January needs romance. January needs glitter and promise. So what do we do? In its earliest days, we tear down the decorations and turn out the twinkling lights that help make the previous month so exciting we actually believe red and white fun-fur hats are a valid style choice.

We go out of our way to highlight how drab our homes and streets look for most of the year.
 
Brothers and sisters, I'm saying to you that I want the Christmas decorations to stay up for ALL OF JANUARY. I might be calling this campaign Keep January Jazzy! Or Keep! January! Jazzy!

I'm probably not.
 
But imagine that first month being full of looming, lit-up, giant snowmen right from day 1 to 31. Wouldn't this say, 'Look a new year full of fabulous flashing lights and shiny baubles, which you may use as a clumsy metaphor for all the bright, shiny things that could be part of your future' instead of 'Look, once you take the tinsel down, here's a new year just as dark and shitty as the last. And that crack in the plaster over the mantelpiece is still there.'

With K!J!J! (OK, I am), when the decorations do finally come down on January 31st, you can say, 'So, 2012 then. We're already a month in, and it isn't so bad, is it? I actually think I might be able to struggle on.'

I don't know who decreed that the fun should stop on Twelfth Night. I mean, I guess I could look it up, but it's late and I'm tired. Whoever it is, I will take them on. I say this in the certain knowledge that they're dead and can't physically hurt me.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly! The whole reason Christmas is celebrated with lights and glitter is to combat the gloom of winter. Taking down decorations on Twelfth Night just makes the cold and dark suddenly seem much colder and darker.

Trashsparkle said...

Absolutely! I am feeling the bereftness of the no-longer-there tree in my lounge... why did I take it down??? But, I couldn't put the lights away and draped them over the sideboard... we should keep January sparkly!

Alison Cross said...

You know what we need for January to brighten it up? Strictly come dancing 2012, that's what!

Ali

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, and after taking all our Christmas decorations down and leaving grey January, we have decided that next year we are going to have a slowly evolving set of decorations, starting off with candles and purple for Advent, moving to red and gold and candles and trees for Christmas, then candles and incense and lights for epiphany, before moving to more candles etc etc for Candlemas. That takes us through to the end of January, and nearly spring!

Seren said...

I could definitely get on board with this campaign...perhaps by fashioning a K!J!J! badge out of leftover tinsel?

Sx

Miss Jones said...

Yes, Seren, I would be very happy to endorse this as the first official item of campaign merchandise.

Muddling Along said...

As a person with a January birthday I find it depressing thatr someone decided January should be a month of no fun. I keep my fairy lights up (ha!) although to be honest I will probably keep them up all year round - I do like a bit of fairy lihgts

Pauline said...

Terrific idea! Totally agree. I bought the wrong sort of lights for my tree and had to buy some proper ones as well. In a hurry and in a bit of a dither, I draped the 'wrong' lights over my Welsh dresser to add a bit of sparkle.

I hated de-Christmassing the house and so kept the unwanted lights where they were. They do indeed brighten up my January and I think they can stay and brighten up my February as well.

Nicky said...

All my sparkle now comes from Dancing On Ice - and there's a fair whack of it too ...

Miss Jones said...

Muddling Along, as a fellow spawn of January, I feel your pain. (Next Monday, 16th, since you ask.)

Persephone said...

Well, we had a real tree, so leaving it up past Twelfth Night would be a fire hazard, but I'm all for leaving up the lights until Candlemas (February 2). That way, we only have six more weeks of winter to slog through.

Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

I adore fairy lights all year so they're round fireplace and kitchen and STAYING. Since I still haven't got my mother over to see everything adorned, tree is still up and indoor orange tree decorated with red apples. And kitchen table with 'arrangement' complete with tiny lights. In Shetland we used to celebrate Old Christmas ie 6th which still gives me 6th plus 12 days so YES this will definitely carry on till the days get longer. Any further excuses will be welcomed wholeheartedly. In the US stuff stays up for months. No superstition there... Totally agree with shameful treatment of Trafalgar Square tree and love idea of parading a picture past the queue. Happy New Year! x

marazion said...

Campaign motto..... Jajazzle?

Just an idea (for the TOWIE watchers - just in case you stoop as low as me).

David Bignell said...

Personally I can't be bothered with the whole Christmas jazziness. We didn't get around to installing a tree or any decorations this year at either our flat, the office, or even at my parents' house. But I think I agree with your K!J!J! plan. Almost every day this week my walk to and from the office has seen me having to step over a splendid range of discarded Christmas trees, and I've been fighting a strange urge to rescue them all and fill the office and my flat with them. Now that the horror of Christmas and the associated Dad's Army Christmas Special is out of the way, I actually feel rather kindly disposed to the idea of twinkly lights and tinsel. And doing it a month late makes everything a whole lot cheaper. It's genius. Count me in.

Sarah said...

I have just been to Warsaw and was a bit surprised to see a fully decorated Xmas tree at the airport and then realised there were still decorations up around the town. They keep their decorations up until February. Mind you I think they put them up at the end of November and that might be a bit much.

I'd go a long with the gradually escalating decorations and lights idea.

Oh, and running Strictly in January!