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Oh Christmas tree


Tony Deyal

Oh Christmas tree

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When I was small, Bing Crosby dominated the radio at Christmas time and we all dreamt of a White Christmas.
We bought a Christmas tree in a box and set it up on a stool in the living room. The branches were wire covered with green paper cut in zigzag patterns which we stuck into holes in the “trunk”.
The branches were long below and shortened as they went higher, so we had the typical “fir” tree shape.
We bought a packet of silver tinsel and looped it in strips over the “boughs” of the tree. We then hung some brightly coloured balls and baubles from the branches of the tree, stuck a star on the top and covered the whole thing with angel hair. It certainly did not come from any angel since it scratched like heck.  
Later, I learnt it was made from fibreglass but by that time we bought snow in cans and sprayed it on the tree. Was that a colonial mentality?  
Maybe, but I still looked forward to Christmas and enjoyed the gifts that were under the tree. I almost fell off the wardrobe trying to see what my mother had hidden on the top of it.  
I am beginning to get extremely anxious and I have started to complain to the Neem tree under whose shade and in whose shadow I have been marooned for the past 11 months of rain and sun.
Not to mention the dogs. Two of them are male.  
This is when I wish I was some kind of flesh-eating plant. But no, I was not made for mayhem, I was made for peace and goodwill to mankind. By the way, my name is Tannenbaum but you can call me “Tan” for short since this is what the sun does to me and all the people from the north who come to Antigua around this time of the year.
My name is German but here is a verse in English of a song they sing about me:
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
For ev’ry year the Christmas tree,
Brings to us all both joy and glee.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!  
I suppose buying a tree from a store was what everybody did in those days, including the artificial snow. I remember Nat King Cole singing Little Christmas Tree, a song about a small tree that remained unsold in the store, and the song said: “No one to buy you, give yourself to me.”
Nat was also famous for a song called Pretend.
I think they should jail everyone involved in the Christmas tree trafficking trade. Imagine, selling us like if we were property, goods or chattels. We represent values and, like all other living things, we have feelings.  
Why do they have to cut our limbs and call them Christmas trees when they could have an entire tree and call that George? Even the Neem tree is upset but he says maybe instead of staying in a pot, I should put down roots so that they would need a bulldozer to move me.
He also said if they keep you in a pot, they intend to cook you like a Christmas ham.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidds’t us all place faithfully
Our trust in God, unchangingly!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Christmas was always a family thing for me.
In Trinidad, we talk about “putting away the house” – in other words, cleaning the old furniture or buying new ones, sewing the curtains, baking the cakes (one sponge and one black), wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree, heading for midnight mass.  
Christmas lunch was special and the day I did not make it, preferring to hang out with my friends and going from house to house, my father was upset.
This was unusual for him because in the old days he stayed out even longer than me.
When I was at school in Canada, the one song that resonated was not White Christmas, since there was snow everywhere, but I’ll Be Home For Christmas.
For 11 months, they don’t take me on, but suddenly, I’m important. Anyhow, that is nerves talking. I can hear the big man coming. Every year, he cradles me in his arms and takes me inside, then the children decorate me and put me in the limelight.  
I get a charge out of that. The dogs don’t dare hassle me in the living room and besides their legs are too short to reach the big chest that they put me on. Here he is. My moment has come. Bye, Neem, see you next year!  
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!
Each bough doth hold its tiny light,
That makes each toy to sparkle bright.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!
• Tony Deyal was last seen wishing all his readers, in and out of the Caribbean, a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and productive New Year. By the way, why do the lights go out every Christmas? Maybe they like each other.

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