The arrival of the Twelfth Night triggers in my parents some kind of biological switch, sending them into a manic state of overdrive where everything festive must be taken down and put away in the shortest possible amount of time.
As I write this the Seven household has entered the primitive no-man's land that lies between the sequestering of the Christmas glassware and crockery, in the wall cupboards on the landing, and the emergence of the ordinary chinaware (The stuff without snowmen or sprigs of holly on it) from its hibernation at an undisclosed location. If I want anything to drink during the next few hours I will have to fashion a primitive goblet from my cupped hands.
When I ventured downstairs this morning, my father (who is capable of divesting the ornaments from a Christmas tree at roughly the same speed as a shoal of piranhas in a feeding frenzy can strip the carcass of a capybara) was laying down dust sheets in the hallway. I returned a few minutes later to find him dismembering the tree in situ with a pair of garden sheers. This grisly act of dendrocide, which bore the facetious, ritualistic hallmarks of a serial killing, was juxtaposed with the folk singer, Kate Rusby’s, Christmas album (a woman with a voice like your favourite pair of slippers) playing sweetly in the background.
Writing as a man who still has Christmas cards dating back three years blu-tacked to the door of my wardrobe I am more relaxed to the end of the Yuletide season. I spent the previous evening (January 5th) writing down my New Year’s resolutions, including the one about procrastination.
I was hoping that retirement and old age might mellow my parents in this regard, but if anything it's made them more militant. My mother, upon her return from a wedding fair, which she had attended with her future Daughter-in-Law, reminded me of my duty to dispatch the festive balloons that she blew up a month ago and then sellotaped to the top of the dresser in the morning room. This is an annual ritual and one that, for some unfathomable reason I always feel compelled to film. I subsequently post the footage on youtube so that for future generations may know something of my achievements.