One of the best things about Christmas, along with opening presents, singing carols, eating turkey, napping on the sofa and watching old films, is putting up the Christmas tree.
We use to buy a fresh tree every year but my wife said this was too expensive so we bought an artificial tree that cost the earth but which, I am reliably informed, will somehow pay for itself over the years to come. Maybe we could hire it out for functions.
When we bought it the nice lady in the store asked if I wanted it delivered.
Manly, masculine, muscly Mike scoffed at such an idea. "No Ma'am; I'll carry it myself, thank you," touching the brim of my make-believe stetson.
I somehow managed to get to the bottom of Paris Street before I admitted that this was not such a good idea; by the time I was halfway up Heavitree Road I was beyond help – or speech – and my wife had to get the car to get me – and the giant redwood I was hauling – back home.
It is an enormous thing, even bigger than the box it was in, standing at least nine feet high with "branches" extending far and wide.
And therein is the rub.
We don't have a big house and now most of it seems full of tree.
Four careful adults can just about squeeze into the front room around the copious overgrowth – although only three can actually see the television.
That's a bit of a blow if there is something you particularly want to see but the real problem is the blind dog.
Our blind dog Jack has learned how to negotiate the general, everyday layout of the house based on trial and error – that is bumping into things until it hurts.
So it is hardly surprising that should someone suddenly deposit a large tree in the middle of his routine route, confusion and considerable disturbance is caused.
He simply walks into the tree and is horribly shocked and disturbed by its presence. He sniffs his vacuum cleaner sniff, first the tree and then each bauble within nose range.
He remains deeply suspicious and completely fails to join in the festive spirit.
You can understand how, given his limited intellect and short memory, the sudden appearance of an oddly smelling plastic tree where he normally sleeps, could induce a degree of derangement.
Happily, these days of dotage see Jack befuddled but in no way violent and he tends to avoid, if not accept, any changes to the norm.
And so with an air of disdain he departs the scene for the comfort of his "secondary residence" safe and sound and un-trod-on under the dining room table.
This in turn means that while we are a little squeezed we can all admire our Christmas tree with warm feet now the normal canine fire guard has snubbed us.
It all makes for a very happy Christmas.