After moaning for years about how they never get a blimmin white Christmas, Brits are now moaning that they’re likely to get one. “It won’t snow till February and even then it won’t settle,” the elders of my past would tell me sadly, coaxing me away from the window as another dream turned to slush. But not anymore. Not in 2010. Now they’ve got lots of it. The people who still have jobs can’t get to them, schools are closed and planes can’t fly. But of course, now that there’s actually a valid excuse for sitting on the sofa for a week, watching The Vicar of Dibley and eating Mince Pies, they don’t want to anymore. Typical.
Anyway, while my blessed home country crumbles under the immense burden of another unexpected weather pattern, at least Abu Dhabi knows how to get people in the mood. I just read about the $11m (£7m) Christmas tree that’s been erected in the Emirates Palace hotel over there, (I went there once to look at some boring art. It’s massive). The tree, like everything else in the vicinity, is decorated with gold and gems and other premium bling, including rubies, diamonds and precious stones. Amazing! They even had an unveiling ceremony!
However, it turns out that people have been complaining about this tree of plenty, and not just because it’s the most expensive tree in the land, joyfully representing a holiday that the country doesn’t really celebrate.
The news source says people have been implying that the opulent tree was put up in bad taste. Bad taste! Can you believe it? It’s not like the world is in recession or anything. Just because they want to put a diamond snowflake on a pine branch, worth twice as much as your average three-bedroom semi, it doesn’t mean they’re gloating. Honestly it doesn’t. And sure, for that cash they could have just built a small, snowy pine forest in an air conditioned dome, complete with mechanical reindeers. They could have marketed their own pine-scented perfume – the smell of eco-friendliness and indoor delight – but then we wouldn’t have got a tree of bling! You can’t have everything, people. You can’t have your Christmas cake and eat it!
Still, feeling bad, the hotel has admitted it regrets the decision to pour expensive festive cheer on a nation of floundering misery-guts’ and has since tried to claim it’s just a venue for exhibiting the tree. They blamed it on a local jeweler. I believe the exchange went something like this:
“Um… forget about that whole unveiling thing, guys, we actually had nothing to do with it! The jeweler just came in, hoisting a gargantuan tree that wasn’t even grown within a million mile radius of the vicinity…I know! Random! He stormed through the golden doors and down the diamond-studded corridors with his prickly kidnappee, draped it in bling and then left. He did! Honest! We didn’t even notice it till you mentioned it…”
I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, at times like these, when everyone’s moaning about this, that and the other, can’t we just see the joy in a well-meant Muslim Christmas tree?