Fairy: In the good old days all trees were topped with a fairy. These days you might get a star or some other bauble, but all things considered you don’t get the same comedy value from a star or bauble. ‘No wonder she looks surprised with that tree stuck up her arse,’ says dad, and mum tuts while the children snigger and snert behind their hands.
Later dad will stick the very last fairy light up “Tinkerbell’s” skirt, ensuring she is uplit in the manner of the leading lady in a local panto tripping past the footlights. ‘I hope she’s got asbestos knickers on,’ says dad, ‘those lights get very hot when they’ve been on a while.’
‘Tsk,’ says mum, as little John and Jane snigger and snert behind their hands.
Fairy Lights: In addition to keeping the fairy’s foo-foo warm the fairy lights provide endless hours of entertainment for the kids as they watch dad wrestle to get them going. Working systematically from the fuse bulb back he individually tightens every one of the brightly-coloured argon-filled pipettes, breaking two red ones (‘it’s always the red ones that go’) between his gorilla-like finger and thumb in the process and squealing like a struck pig as mum extricates the splinters with a pair of tweezers.
‘I hope argon’s not poisonous’ says mum, displaying a hitherto unacknowledged understanding of electrical lighting circuitry that suggests she might be better equipped to take on the task in hand than the old man.
Having removed the fragments of glass and bound his fingertips dad resumes his repairs, concluding – after tightening the last lamp – that the fault must be with the main fuse. Lacking a spare and unable to find his fuse-checker in his tool box he decides it’s time to go Old Skool, and encases the old fuse in a strip of Bacofoil™ before reinserting it in the plug.
Having blown the fuse on the ring circuit dad now realises he has no fusewire to execute a repair. As mum panics over the defrosting Christmas fare in the fridge-freezer and the kids wail at the loss of the TV, dad executes a temporary repair by lodging a six-inch nail between the prongs on the fuseboard.
Having blown the sub-station at the bottom of the estate dad phones the electricity board and complains about the power outage. They despatch an engineer to look into the problem from their end. Meanwhile, dad packs mum and the kids into the car and drives to the nearest B&Q where they purchase ring main fuse wire and a bag of assorted 13 amp, 5 amp and 2 amp plugtop fuses. And a fuse checker. And a new set of LED fairy lights.
Fir: Sticking firmly with today’s unintentional tree theme (shouldn’t this be under ‘T’?) we now consider the centrepiece itself. There are many varieties of tree available, including the Scotch Pine, the Norwegian Noble, and the Californian Redwood. While dad may try to insist on the latter (‘we can put it in the garden’) this is absolutely to be avoided, however much he sulks. One thing all of these trees have in common is needles. These are bastards, and any assertion on the part of the salesman that the tree has been ‘specially treated to ensure absolutely that it will not shed” should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. It’s simple. If you don’t want to impale yourself on something that bears the horrifying name “needle” (it does exactly what it says on the tin) then don’t buy a real tree. Bad enough you have to spend Christmas Eve afternoon in A&E waiting for dad to get the bauble splinters out of the ball of his foot, without adding insult to injury on Boxing day. That nurse-nursing-a-hangover has enough on her plate, without you adding to her workload unnecessarily. Take my advice: go artificial.
Of course, these days you don’t have to bother with a tree at all. You can go to a craft fair or farmer’s market and buy a skanky old branch that somebody’s spray-painted white or silver and hung two glitter-coated ping-pong balls on. Yes, the ‘artisan tree’ is all the rage, and for only five or six times the cost of a real or artificial tree twice its size it can be gracing your front room in a matter of minutes. While you’re there buy a wreath for the front door too – mind your fingers on the chicken wire – and perhaps even a scented candle seated in a highly inflammable dried flower table arrangement. Don’t forget your credit cards.
 A degree of artistic license has been taken here, offering old-fashioned incandescent fairy lights in an era when LEDs would be far more likely. Further, it is unlikely that even old-fashioned fairy lights contained any type of gas, including argon, due to their tiny size and miniscule wattage. The ‘heat’ generated in the previous section relating to the fairy’s foo-foo and the warming thereof is a further anachronism, given that modern LEDs emit little or no heat. The fairy’s fanny, in essence, would remain unwarmed, so here’s hoping she’s replaced those asbestos knickers with some nice thick woolly bloomers. Snert.