Decorating the Tree

I’m very fond of my Christmas Tree.  I expect most people feel the same – at this time of year it becomes the focal point in most homes.  Some people have several in different rooms of the house, or even some decorated trees outside.  We don’t go to town on Christmas decorations.  Apart from the tree it is mostly just some lights and Christmas cards.

We have a real tree.  It is hard to know what is best for the environment these days, and I do feel bad each year when we take it down the lane, and leave it forlorn by the dustbin, waiting to be taken for composting.  Last year’s tree wasn’t so good, it dropped needles every time I touched it, as though it knew it wasn’t a proper Christmas.  Happily, this year’s tree is a good one – bushy with plenty of branches on which to hang my multitude of decorations.

Opening up the Christmas boxes that have been stored all year in the attic is always a treat.  We greet the decorations like old friends.  Not for us the colour co-ordinated tree in this year’s style – we have some decorations that are over 30 years old.  Most tell a story.  Some are handmade; by the boys when they were little, or knitted by my mum. Our fairy on the top was made from a clothes peg by my mother in law. Some were gifts – I have an assortment of straw decorations of fruit and people from Ecuador given to me by a school friend many years ago.  Some are precious – crafted expertly from paper, or hand-blown glass, but most of my decorations have come from overseas, bought as souvenirs from our travels.  It is particularly nice to reminisce now, when we haven’t been anywhere for over two years.  Aptly our last holiday was to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but I came away empty-handed.

I have a small troll from Iceland, bought in a gift shop next to the geysers; three little felt clothed people in clogs from a supermarket in Copenhagen; a couple in native dress purchased on Lake Titicaca; blue and white china baubles from Amsterdam, and colourful wooden nutcrackers from Prague.  This year’s addition is Kevin the Carrot – not so well travelled.

When the boys lived here it was their job to put the decorations on the tree – after I had put the lights on.  Initially they couldn’t reach far, and all the decorations were on the front bottom half of the tree.  I would surreptitiously re-arrange them bit by bit over the coming days; they never seemed to notice.  As they grew older they would shut themselves into the living room and play Christmas records for an hour or so, only letting us in to see when the job was complete. It wasn’t long before they could reach higher up the tree than I could. Like me, the boys are fond of family traditions and certain decorations had to be placed just so.  The three brass crowns are always at the top, just below the clothes-peg fairy, and just below them, on the right-hand side, my younger son always hangs the blue rat.  Yes, the knitted blue rat.  None of us remembers where he came from or when, but it wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without him.

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