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I don’t know about your corners of the world – but hereabouts these are days for trimming the Christmas Tree.

As a matter of fact, most people in Italy seem to do it on the 8th of December, a Marian holiday and, usually, a first taste of Christmas vacations. Others do  it on the 1st of the month, and I have a friend who used to hold that a Christmas tree should, by definition, be trimmed of Christmas Eve, and taken down the day after the Epiphany. Now he has two young daughters, though – and the tree goes up as early as the girls can wear down their parents’s patience. In my family, for some old reason no one quite remembers anymore, we keep a tradition of trimming our trees on the Eve of Saint Lucia, on the 12th – the day after tomorrow.

Whenever you trim your tree, though, I thought I’d share with you Charles Dickens’s take on the subject. It is a short, rather magical thing, more of a couple of vignettes than a story proper – and it becomes a little sad before the end, in the bittersweet sadness that comes with Christmas Eves when you grow up. I’ve believed for quite a long time, now, that it is one rite of passage to adulthood when Christmas Eve becomes mostly a matter of absences…

But we don’t want to grow maudlin, do we? You can find Dickens’s Tree, among other stories, here on the Project Gutenberg, or you can download it in PDF at this other link. Or else, you can listen to Simon Callow’s reading for the Guardian’s Short Story Podcast.

And of course, o Readers, I am curious: do you trim Christmas trees? And if so, do you have particular traditions about doing it?