RICHARD ORD: The case of the chocolate Christmas tree decorations

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Of all the great Christmas traditions, I think festive thievery is my most cherished.

And of all the festive heists in the home, few pose a greater challenge than that of stealing the chocolate Christmas tree decorations.

As one of two brothers, I can testify to the painstaking efforts made in this department.

Mark my words, nicking the foil-covered chocolates that dangle from the branches of the Christmas tree is no cakewalk.

Of course, parents are just asking for trouble by buying them in the first place.

What possible pleasure do they think children derive from hanging chocolates up on a tree that they are not allowed to eat immediately?

They’re not Christmas treats, they’re Christmas taunts!

“Hey kids, there’s a tree covered in chocolates. You can look, but you can’t touch. They’re for guests.”

Guests my hat. We’ll eat them by hook or by crook.

Early doors, the thefts were easy. You nicked the chocolates at the back of the tree. The ones your mum and dad couldn’t see.

With two brothers, however, we were pretty quickly onto the chocolates in plain sight.

The stealing of these chocolates required a whole new level of sophistication... and deception.

As soon as the room was empty, you had to leap into action (the theme tune to Mission Impossible ideally, playing in your head).

With surgical precision, and barely drawing breath, the delicate foil would be peeled back, the chocolate extricated, eaten at great speed, and then, ever so carefully, the foil would be folded back and reshaped. You needed a steady hand and nerves of steel. You were against the clock.

Once refolded to resemble its former chocolate-filled self, the empty foil wrapper would then be re-hung on the tree before the parents returned.

It was the perfect crime.

To the naked eye, all would look normal. You could sit there smugly watching the TV, savouring the chocolate taste in your mouth, with your family none the wiser. Until they fancied a chocolate and were confronted with the empty wrapper!

The hardest part was not telling. It’s usually the undoing of the great criminal masterminds. They love to take the credit. It’s why they leave a calling card. A monogrammed white glove, for example.

In the case of my two boys, they might as well have left their birth certificates and directions to their bedrooms.

Their attempt at the great chocolate Christmas tree decoration robbery was feeble in the extreme.

As the photographic evidence above showing one of the many mishapen foil baubles left on our tree, they have a lot to learn. If festive chocolate theft is a gateway crime, the local constabulary needn’t lose any sleep over the future activity of our two boys.

Merry Christmas.