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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 27, 2008 @ 11:31 am

    Christmas comes to the Áras

    Fiona McCann

    Out running this morning in the Phoenix Park and I noticed a large truck parked at the gates to the Áras, waiting, presumably for security approval for the enormous Christmas tree on the back. That’s right, Christmas is coming to the Áras, and it’s big, green, bare and ripe for decorating. Or trimming, as the Americans say (and a Happy Thanksgiving to y’all) . Which made me think of Christmas trees in books, and my first encounter with the use of the verb ‘to trim’ for trees, when Holden Caulfield promised Sally he’d come over and help her trim her Christmas tree in a drunken phone call at the end of Catcher in the Rye. That the the book ends with the Christmas tree still bare has a poignancy to it that makes it all the more memorable. Salinger wasn’t alone in imbuing this festive symbol with layers of meaning. Robert Frost’s Christmas Trees is also worth seeking out, not just for its beautiful opening lines, but to see how the nature of the trees is changed as they become redefined as Christmas.

    “My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
    Where houses all are churches and have spires.
    I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.”

    Any other literary Christmas tree references spring to mind? And what with the tree up in O’Connell street and one on its way to the President’s house, is it time to get the tree in already?


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