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Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Magi vs the Tree Spirits

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!Firstly, thank you so very, very much to those who have donated to my Alcohol-free January fundraising efforts for Cancer Research.

Taking the tree down tonight without sherry was a difficult task, but I did it, and feel justly proud, as if I had run a half-marathon or abseiled down a building.

Our Christmas tree comes down at the last possible moment, based mainly on how droopy it becomes; we're never in a rush to bid it goodbye. Don't give me any of that nonsense about bad luck - I am pretty sure that this does not appear in the Bible:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life: unless they leave their tinsel up too long, in which case they are on their own. 
The 'bad luck after Twelfth Night' thing comes from a long-gone belief that evergreens were full of tree spirits which you brought inside to keep safe for the winter, but had to push out the door again in case you jinxed the arrival of Spring. There was also a fear that the spirits would eventually get a bit lairy and wreck your house. If anyone talks to you about bad luck, just ask them: "Are you afraid of the tree spirits?" Of course they're not. And then they look at you as if you're the mad one.

Besides, the Magi haven't even got to the stable yet. Here they are, braving the grubby marks on the wall and the dust on the skirting board to make their way to our very own nativity scene, nicknamed Nativity in Vegas. The stable is a repurposed lollipop-stick house; the figures are tiny Christmas decorations with the strings cut off. I am perfectly content with the inconsistencies in scale.



We don't usually manage a King Cake; Littlest's birthday takes priority at this time of year. Our Christmas is sandwiched between my birthday and hers, and feels all the more special for it - neither of us can sanction the idea of a birthday without a Christmas tree. Though I usually make my own cakes, the week ran away with me this time and we ended up in Morrisons buying this beastie. (I don't mind, actually - I do have an occasional guilty love for mass-produced plastic icing. Don't tell Littlest, but I have an almost overwhelming urge to bite the head off that fairy.)

I've saved that '8' candle now for four years, the age gap between the two Lattes. 
What am I going to do with it now? It's been lit for a combined total of about 30 seconds. 

So, onward to Epiphany. I shall be trying to play this tonight on my birthday mandolin. (And failing.)


26 comments:

  1. Sudden realisation that I have all the ingredients for a proper galette des rois and my pudding is therefore sorted for tomorrow (pudding on Sundays only now). Thank you for the reminder.

    My neighbour who is Italian always laments the lack of notice we Brits take of Epifania. She is horrified that I take my tree down before the year is out 'but the kings aren't at the stable yet' she wails, 'but Christmas trees are pagan' I say. The fact that school often begins before Epiphany really upsets her.

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  2. According to someone on the Today programme this morning, you're good with your tree until Candlemass, which is 2nd Feb. there's a lovely Kate Rusby song called Candlemass Eve which goes 'down with the mistletoe, down with the rosemary'. I thought perhaps she didn't like them for some reason, but no. She was just taking them down to let the 'greener box' grow. It's all falling into place now.

    And a happy birthday to you and your daughter.

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    1. Thanks so much for that! I did know about Candlemass, since I talked to my vicar about it last year when I was having the same reverse-humbug thing about Epiphany. But I must check out that song, I like Kate Rusby.

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  3. laughing hysterically at your adapted scripture.

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  4. Happy new year to all the coffees from the soups!

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  5. I love your kings walking along the shelf. I am feeling the need for a king cake but with no puff pastry in the house I might have to substitute something. Not entirely sure what.

    Our tree has been cast out and chopped up so any tree spirits in there are probably mightily peeved now.

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    1. I hope you didn't nick any of them with the saw. They might take revenge.

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  6. The children are doing an Epiphany puppet pageant today at church and there will be a King cake during our coffee hour afterwards.

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  7. Ref the candle - if you save it for another 6 years you can add a number 1 and it will be really useful - and again 4 years later. It may seem like a long time but, believe you me, blink and they will be 18 before you know it! Make the most of the intervening years as there is no going back. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2013

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    1. It was suggested by the children that we buy a '4' to go in front of it; that way Mr Coffee and I can get some use out of it as well.

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  8. Happy new year to you all & Happy Birthday to littlest

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  9. Happy New Year to you too....and a great one too.

    Nina x

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  10. I think I probably would be afraid of the tree spirits if I ever met one. So far have been lucky...

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  11. one of our Kings is headless... it broke off in the box but that didn't seem to bother the children in the least... they placed him as usual in the Nativity set and that was it. Weird children. I blame the father.

    I always try to take the tree down after the Jan 6. Epifania, ogni festa porta via. It's Italian, you can google translate that. (should be hilarious). I'm not taking changes with tree spirits!!

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  12. Is that Mr Coffee? Is it? That was blimmin' beautiful. As was the photo.

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  13. How clever to play the mandolin, it sounded good to me.

    Happy birthday to the pair of you and I hope you enjoy your special days greatly.

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  14. Fab mandolin playing! Well done with your alcohol free January - being half way through must feel good!

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  15. I like your style. I have a '7' candle in the kitchen draw. My daughter is nearly 8, my son is nearly 4. Every little helps eh!

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  16. Christmas used to be such a special time in our house with all the excitement. We used to put the tree up on the 1st December and I would redress it again on Christmas Eve (without them knowing) we would watch a Christmas film before they went to bed and they were always allowed to open one present from one of my friends on Christmas Eve which funnily enough was always a nice new pair of PJ's to put on to go to bed. It took them years to twig that one. Sadly they are all grown and flown now and as adults Christmas just isn't the same anymore but I still have all my lovely memories of them as smallies and occasionally get the photo's or the video's out to remind them just how great they were as kids. They are still pretty special as adults but for now my job seems to have been fulfilled as they venture off down their own memory lanes.

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  17. My crib is still up on 31st Jan. I put the wise men in and it seems a shame to take them out after only a day. The wise men at church began thier journey on Christmas eve, getting nearer each sunday rather like 'The Birds' in Hitchcock's thriller.
    As for the candle..cut a side of the bottom off for 9 or buy a one and wait another 10 years. It passes quickly.

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  18. Blimey, I feel all transported to the middle ages. How very lovely. Given the choice this is exactly the sort of muzaq which would plink around my four walls at Christmas - I loves it.
    I'm afraid I'm one of those people who make ABSOLUTELY sure I have all the decs down by twelfth night, so terrified am I of bad luck for the coming year. I didn't even know the sprite story - it's just one of those things drummed into the fabric of who I am. I have been known to enter a friend's house and hiss 'bad luck, bad luck' at their still-up Christmas tree mid January, like some medieval witch. She still has a bough of tree laid across her windowsill as we speak. I can't even bring myself to make eye contact with it. I blame my mother. I don't do any washing on New Years Day because of her.

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