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Saturday 5 January 2013

Thoughts on Old Christmas Day and the Christmas dec's

(My second attempt this century at a prose poem!)
The sixth of Jan', Old Christmas Day
Your decorations stowed away
or some great evil will, I fear
dog your steps this coming year.

(Well, that or something like it.)

As I was growing up, we lived with my maternal grandparents, and Gran lived and breathed those old superstitions and folk wisdoms - especially those that were encapsulated in verse. As, indeed, they all seemed to be. But it was not Gran, but Dad who was a terror for getting the stars and tinsel and other stuff away in good time - and a less superstitious person would be difficult to imagine.

The reason for his insistence went back to his own childhood, to the one and only Christmas when everything was not stowed away. As a consequence of that oversight the River Wandle overflowed its banks. He used to tell of watching from his bedroom window as his Dad waded down the garden path to rescue their pet dog - and watching him disappear below the murky waters down an open man hole, invisible to him. So not getting the decorations down in time became a non-starter.

No such dramas for us this year - for which, much thanks. Nothing of note beyond one small incident connected with getting them down in a totally different context. I keep them stowed in four large stackible crates in the attic. Anno domini having made some inroads into my physique of late, I now stack them beside the access hatch to the roof space. This allows me to bring them down without the need for aerial gymnastics on my part. I simply position the step ladder, push the trapdoor open - and help myself. That's the theory.

This year the trap would not open. I heaved and I pushed and then I pushed and I heaved, but no, it would not budge. Finally, by dint of putting my repaired hernia at some risk, I persuaded one side of the door to rise. The mystery was solved. We have fallen into the habit of having our friend the painter and decorator in to work his magic whilst we are away on holiday. This year he transformed the stairs and landing - and in a burst of excessive zeal apparently sealed the trapdoor with double-sided draught-excluder.

With some difficulty I managed to ease enough of the hatch cover away from it - but still I could not lift the wretched thing! Further investigation revealed that the crates containing the decorations - two of which are heavy - now rested on the hatch itself! I still have not worked out how he managed this. It was one hell of an intelligence test, working out how to manoeuvre them away from the hatch. It must have taken far more ingenuity to position them there in the first place. Doreen is convinced we have an uninvited lodger up there.

Ergo I am under strict instructions to get them down today - just so there are no last minute slips-up.

Well no, maybe not. Back to the drawing board!


The Weaver of Grass said...

I like mine down the day after New Year's Day Dave - they drive me mad once the festive season is over.
I thought you were a superstitious chap when you informed me I would have seven years bad luck when I broke my wing mirror!
(actually I have just had another attack which has resulted in my losing my driving licence for a while again, so probably you were right!)

Mary said...

Yikes, I hope you somehow manage this. Perhaps the painter needs to pay you a visit today and clue you in as to how he managed to accomplish that feat!

Have a good day, Dave!

Brian Miller said...

haha, someone set you up i think...how odd makes you wonder how it got there...guess you might end up with a mess if you push harder but....

Ygraine said...

Seems you may well have a poltergeist up there! Hehehe:D

Took ours down yesterday. I like them gone so I can move on into the new year unfettered, so to speak.
Looking forward to the approach of spring now...

Helen said...

I thought I knew what 'double-sided draught-excluder' might be, Googled it to be certain! Quite the decorator, painter fellow you have there.

My tree goes up in early November, down in early February (I know, really going against the grain here) I love looking at all of the twinkling lights and the warm ambience it provides.

jabblog said...

Many years our tree and decorations never make it into the loft but wait patiently in a spare bedroom. (What choice do they have?) I took the cards down today and my husband asked why I was doing it early. Normally, he doesn't notice. Tree and decorations tomorrow.

ds said...

I have the January 6 date stuck in my head, too, not for superstitious reasons (I think) but because Christmas isn't truly over until then...Perhaps your friend the painter/decorator has created a little nest for himself in your attic...

Elephant's Child said...

I will take down my stars this evening. Perhaps.
I love the way that superstitions we re-inforce ourselves become set in stone. I do it too.
And, I believe that you have a lodger in the attic. A shy lodger who likes his privacy.

Jim Murdoch said...

The only prose poems like this that I can think of were by Solzhenitsyn and I couldn’t figure out why his were prose poems and not very short stories either (the term ‘flash fiction’ not being in vogue at the time). Carrie tells me we’re taking down our decorations today. Not being remotely superstitious it wouldn’t worry me if the tree sat up all year. I’ll miss the coloured lights. Amazing the difference a few red, blue, green and orange bulbs can make to a room; the place always looks so sad when they’re gone. Perhaps we should look for something with more colour for the rest of the year, a lava lamp or a fibre optic lamp. Her mother has a Christmas Room where the tree stays up all year. I can’t actually remember if they bother to decorate the living room.

Dave King said...

The Weaver of Grass
I was brought up to believe in Old Christmas Day and to take them down then (dad). I didn't actually believe you would have seven years bad luck, and I sincerely hope you do not. Let's hope this setback is the end of the bad luck.

I did manage it, yes. I have since decided that the painter thought the weight of the boxes would keep the hatch in place in high winds!!!

Yes, I did manage to ease them away from the trap, but the thing is that getting them there in the first place would have been a much more difficult task.

Ha! Never even gave that a thought! How strangem because I've long been convinced we have one in the house!

Just been reading in the newspaper that we are now looking at the most miserable two months of the year... I didn't think I needed telling that!

I'm cheered that you found double-sided draught excluder in Google - it was my term for what the painter had used. Didn't know it actually existed!

I love to hear of people living dangerously!

Ah, we keep the spare room for the dec's we overlooked - the ones that were left behind when the others were elevated.

I think we're on the save wavelength - with both of your comments.

Yup, I do think that is a possibility!

The Elephant's Child
We do seem to have a lot in common, you and I!