Tuesday 23 December 1997
Susan Tomes turned to the dictionary for inspiration and found that "detritus" is defined as "a mass of substance gradually worn away from solid bodies". She thinks that "after a period of festive over-eating, we solid bodies could do with a bit of substance erosion ourselves. So if you can't beat detritus, join it!"
"Pen thank you letters on it, and you detrite back," say Peter Thomas. Or, he suggests, you could use it as bedding in a donkey's stable, or keep the leftover port in case of a storm.
Sian Cole, signing herself "Sianta Colause", offers to "take the place of the Christmas tree (undressed) and all the Creativity readers can take turns at dressing me." She offers to help out anyone who can think of places to hang their baubles or stick their crackers.
Norman Foster saves all the bangs from his Christmas crackers and sells them in the spring to farmers as bird-scarers. Christmas trees, he says, make good brushes for chimney sweeps, with the smaller ones as lavatory brushes.
Sweep up the pine-needles that lie on the floor (writes Maguy Higgs),
Glue back on the tree, make it green as before.
Kept in the freezer
It'll still be there,
Next year and save money you'll need for the other requirements of the festive season you forgot to budget for.
And just to show that the last line wasn't a fluke, she continues:
There isn't a rhyme for detritus:
You mention it only to spite us,
But we never say die
And continue to try
To achieve the unreachable end of a line, however unwieldy, by finally dragging in something that comes close to causing St Vitus.
(Five more verses available on prescription.)
Bruce Birchall has some fine ideas for things to do with pine needles: "compress into a giant Cleopatra's needle; use as toothpicks; use in voodoo on wax dolls of one's enemies". He also wants to donate the fairy lights to a home for aged and retired glow-worms. Discarded crackers, however, he wishes to serve with cheese.
Don't give the leftover bah humbugs to Ebenezer Scrooge, says Mike Gifford. He recommends sending all Nativity scenes to the Marriage Guidance Council "as proof that a stable relationship can exist". Karen McMullan, however, sees the detritus of Christmas as a perfect gift for Scrooge, "along with some hanging participles and the missing millennium 'n's as last-minute Christmas decorations."
Ideas in brief: "Ground into a paste with brandy butter to smooth over cracks in family unity" (Judith Holmes); "Santa Clauses to Russia to revive the Red Army; Christmas trees as festive motorway cones" (RJ Pickles); "Christmas trees for getting spruced up in a fir coat" (KathleenTurnbull). "Shredded cards and a wind machine make a slightly late White Christmas; turkey wishbones to improve suspension in elves' cars" (Jack & Renee Dolan).
Chambers Dictionary prizes to Nicholas Gough (for unashamed sycophancy), Mike Gifford and Maguy Higgs. Creativity will now be taking a short Christmas break, but will return in the new year with things to do with 1998. After that, we'll be looking for things to do with flotsam and jetsam. May we wish a merrily creative Christmas to all.
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