When I was young and Christmas had a Christ,
On Christmas Eve my Dad would disappear
On a secret mission to the woods, to top
A holly tree and trim some berried twigs.
Come rain or shine he tramped the muddy paths
Through leaf-strewn glades and squelching ditches to
His pre-selected target, fingers crossed
That no-one else had been and taken it.
When mission was accomplished he returned
In triumph, bearing a shapely tree aloft,
With sprigs of holly as minor trophies, all
To be received with squeals of great delight.
The potted tree, placed in the sitting-room,
Was hung with tinsel, mini paper-chains,
A star and silver shreds, and finished off
With candles stood in holders clipped to twigs.
The joy of presents underneath the tree,
The lighting of the candles and the smell
Of burning wax that wafted round the room,
The homely flickering of splintered light.
But now the artificial Christmas tree
Is brought down from the attic, shaken out
And twisted into shape on plastic legs,
To be adorned with costly merchandise,
All lit by sets of electric lights that shine
With automated flash. But where, oh where,
The spontaneity, delight? At close
Of Boxing Day the flickering light goes out.
From Poetry Cornwall No 26 (2009)