AT the risk of sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge, I’ve never enjoyed the annual ritual of going out to buy a Christmas tree.

It’s complete and utter madness, isn’t it? You venture out into the freezing cold, spend ages examining hundreds of trees that all look more or less the same, and usually end up choosing the first one that caught your wife’s eye.

Then you spend hours trying to get it to stand up straight in the pot from under the stairs, only to chuck it away a few weeks later.

If it hadn’t been for the arrival of our little grand-daughter, I’m pretty sure we’d have moved on to a small, reusable, artificial Christmas tree by now. But, thanks to three-year-old Chloe, there’s renewed pressure on us to get a real tree, as early as possible.

She was too young to understand last year but this is her first real Christmas and, suddenly, she’s high as a flying reindeer in anticipation of Santa’s visit.

“You get Cwistmas twee soon Gwanma?” she kept asking as soon as December had dawned. “Me help decorate your Cwistmas twee?”

Gwanma has become Play-Doh in Chloe’s hands so, of course, we had to race straight off to the Christmas tree farm to make our purchase.

“It’ll need to be a decent-sized one for Chloe,” said my wife, ominously, as we trudged up and down the endless rows of trees.

Chloe’s three. She might be tall for her age but she's still just a little girl. Therefore, any tree over four feet is going to be big in her eyes. Suffice to say, however, that this isn’t a perspective shared by my wife.

Ideally, she would have liked a Nordmann Fir – a softer, glossier variety “best known for its needle-holding longevity” – but they're twice the price of the harsher, pricklier Norway Spruce.

I’m relieved to say that common sense prevailed. We reluctantly opted for a Norway Spruce, although she insisted on it being a big one, and that meant busting the £30 budget we’d agreed in the car on the way.

“What about this one?” I said, holding up a tree that seemed to me to be a perfectly adequate specimen.

“No, it’s not big enough,” replied Gwanma.

“What do you mean? It’s nearly as big as me!” I shouted back, braving the prickles to demonstrate how it measured up alongside my frame of five-feet-eleven (and three-quarter) inches.

My wife of 31 years – the woman who once admired me from every angle – shook her head, dismissively: “Well, you wouldn’t look very impressive standing in the corner of the room,” she said.

I beg to differ.




CHLOE was playing in the shop that’s a permanent fixture at the back of our lounge.

“Can I have a cuddle?” I asked.

“Oh, Grandad,” she sighed. “Can’t you see I’ve got work to do.”


PHIL Chinery, of Darlington, told his grandson: “When I was your age, all I got for Christmas was an orange and an apple.”

“Wow,” replied the boy. “A mobile phone and a computer!"


PHIL also recalled the time a wee boy got lost in Asda. He went up to a security guard and, between sobs, declared that he'd lost his grandad.

“What’s his name?” asked the security guard.


“And what's he like"?

“Talisker Slainte,” replied the boy, citing his grandad’s favourite whisky.