Twelfth Night Blues - And Greens

by Mary Jackson (January 2010)

Every year on Twelfth Night, I resolve never to have another real Christmas tree. And every December I forget how bad it is and fall for the magic of a real tree again. An artificial one just isn't the same.

Today it had to come down. What a palaver. I thought it would be easy this year. The decorations were off in seconds. My tree was droopy and desiccated; surely it would be a small matter to cart it out of my flat and along the short hallway to the front of the house? But the tree had other ideas. Determined to take revenge for its cruel treatment - which of us would like to be cruelly cut down, hung with tacky baubles and then discarded? - it refused to go gently, and thrust out its branches with the strength of a madman. It flailed and bashed against every wall and surface, shooting out needles I never thought it had. It stubbornly refused to go through the doors without struggling and cursing. I yanked it through, but managed to break more bits off, which bits buried themselves behind cushions and pictures and under chairs and table legs. Once I'd wrestled it outside, it became limp and passive, and until the council collect it next week, will serve to reproach me for my un-green behaviour.

It took over an hour to make inroads into the chaos that tree had left behind in my flat. How had a piece of it ended up in the bedroom? It defies the laws of physics. An industrial-strengh vacuum cleaner would not shift those needles, which are firmly embedded in every soft surface. The only way to get rid of them is to pick them out one by one with my bare hands, a suitable penance, the tree might say if it could speak. Or if it spoke German, it might say (or sing):

Sah ein Knab ein Röslein stehn,
Röslein auf der Heiden,
war so jung und morgenschön,
lief es schnell es nah zu sehn,
sah´s mit vielen Freuden
Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot,
Röslein auf der Heiden.

Knabe sprach:" Ich breche dich,
Röslein auf der Heiden."
Röslein sprach:" Ich steche dich,
daß du ewig denkst an mich,
und ich will´s nicht leiden."

Und der wilde Knabe brach´s
Röslein auf der Heiden,
Röslein wehrte sich und stach,
half ihm auch kein Weh und Ach,
muß es eben leiden.

In the second verse, the boy says, "I will break you." The rose says, "I will prick you, so you must think of me forever." I'll be finding those needles for months to come. They'll still be sharp enough to prick my hands and my conscience. That tree didn't want to die.

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