At the end of December last year, I shared an insight into a personal experience over Christmas. Suffice to say a lot of people enjoyed reading about my mother-in-law’s mishap with her skirt, so here’s another tale that may provoke a smile:

A few months ago, my wife and I were fortunate to buy a static caravan at a residential site in North Yorkshire. We delight in the tranquil setting, and enjoy exploring what is a relatively new part of the world to us. Yesterday we were taking in the high street of Northallerton, a bustling market town that sits midway between the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. It was just a casual visit, with no intention to purchase – or so I thought. As we passed one large store my wife glanced in the window and muttered “Just wait here a moment. Need to check something out.” So the dog and I stood outside the entrance for all of five minutes, curious to see what might emerge. Would this be my birthday surprise, I wondered? After shave? Snazzy socks? The new ABBA album?

No, it was none of those things. To my immense surprise, she reappeared clutching a large box that clearly contained an artificial Christmas tree. “What on earth..?” I started to say. “Don’t argue, Alan” she said. “We need a bigger one at home, and now we’ve got the caravan we can bring that little one here!”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my views on Christmas decs are fairly minimalist. A sprig of holly here. A twinkling set of fairy lights there, and I’m happy. Just so long as there’s plenty of grub in the fridge, which then works its way through the oven to sit proudly on my plate. Yes, I DID once play the part of Ebenezer Scrooge (to critical acclaim), but I wasn’t exactly embracing this idea of owning/storing a six-foot-tall plastic and wire ornament after successfully “downsizing” our efforts last year. It also didn’t help my being told I was expected to fund 50% of my wife’s latest impulse buy.

I grumbled a bit. Okay, I whinged a lot. To no avail. The box was duly persuaded to fit into our car, where it would await our journey home next morning.

My wife awoke looking a little troubled. “What’s up?” I enquired. “It’s that tree,” she said. “I need to have another look at it.” She went out to the car and brought the box in for examination, announcing to my surprise that she thought she might have done something silly. “I think I’ve only bought half a tree.”

“HALF?” was my stunned response. “How can you have only bought HALF a tree?” I looked at the box, a large white-frosted display of pine branches met my eyes. “Does it come in two parts, and you only picked up one?” “Look at the wording,” said my wife. I did. “6 ft Half Flocked Tree” it said. “Well, that probably means it’s only partially flocked – whatever that means?” That didn’t really help matters, so we opened the box. Sure enough, inside was half of a six-foot-tall tree – split right down the middle.

I have to have sympathy for my better half. A) She’ll never live this one down, and B) She had to take the damn thing back, to my utter delight.

Sadly, there’s a full-size replacement in the post…

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