THERE are lots of advantages to having a grandchild – and speeding up the process of buying a Christmas tree is up near the top of the list.

Over the years, I’ve dreaded the annual expedition to the festive farm to buy our tree. No matter how freezing it might have been, my wife has always insisted on viewing every single tree, from every possible angle, before reaching a decision.

“This one looks fine,” I’ll invariably say, holding up one from the first row that looks perfectly acceptable and comes in under my personal limit of £30.

But, no-ho-ho, my wife has always refused to accept an early solution to the Christmas tree conundrum. It’s part of the ritual to drag it out as long as possible.

Until this year, that is. For the first time, we took our four-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, with us while her Mummy and Daddy were working. It was cold, it was drizzling, and I’d braced myself for the usual hour-long search in the dark.

But, to my astonishment, my wife made her choice in a new world record of seven minutes 53 seconds.

“What about this one, Ganma?” Chloe had asked soon after our mission began.

“Oh, that’ll do,” replied my wife, as I looked on with my mouth wide open.

“Is that really it – are we done?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “It’s too cold for Chloe.”

“But it’s £35,” I protested, half-heartedly.

“It’s fine,” she replied.

Memories of the previous 30 years of freezing Christmas tree searches flashed before my eyes: big ones, smaller ones; Nordmann Firs, Norway Spruces, Austrian Pines. You name ‘em, I’ve held ‘em up for size, symmetry, and straightness – but this year has been fir and away the best.

Back home in the warm, Chloe wanted to make decorations for our new tree, and we started with a Rudolph made from my old Lego collection that she’s inherited.

We both thought it was rather good until her Daddy came to collect her and commented: “Mmm, you don’t often see a reindeer with antlers growing between its nose and its eyes.”

He was slightly more impressed with a decoration we’d made from a wine bottle cork. This one had a happy face drawn with black felt tip, and toothpicks for the skinniest arms and legs.

“He needs some hair,” said Chloe.

The answer was on the floor under the dining room table. I’d been fuming the day before when the vacuum cleaner had ripped the bobble off my woolly hat and torn it to shreds. But, suddenly, there was a silver lining. Chloe picked up the strands of bright red wool and they were carefully glued to the top of the cork.

Then came the real crowning glory. “He needs a hat,” I suggested.

“What about some frozen peas?” replied Chloe. “Then we can call him Tommy Peahead.”

You may think it’s easy to glue frozen peas to a wine bottle cork, but you’d be wrong. It took me almost as long as it normally takes us to buy a Christmas tree.

I love being a Grandad, me.


CHLOE has been treating her daily advent calendar chocolate with near-religious zeal, so much so that her enthusiasm occasionally overwhelms her growing vocabulary.

Her first words to her Daddy one morning, immediately following the daily ritual of waking him up via a soft toy elephant to the face, were: “Daddy, it’s time for my Alendar Cadvent.”

AND one from the Christmas archive…

MARGARET Whitfield, of the Belmont Over 50s, took her little grandson, Matthew, to see Father Christmas.

“What’s your name?” asked Santa.

“Matthew,” replied the boy.

“How old are you, Matthew?” Santa continued.

“I’m four – but my feet are eight,” said Matthew, getting mixed up with his shoe size.

  • Here’s wishing all Grandads – and Grandmas – a very Merry Christmas.