I’m not really one to over-do Christmas decorations – I do have a twinkling tree bedecked with tinsel and ornaments and lights and topped with this cute little fairy, and I like to add a bit of extra festive frippery to the fireplace – well, across the top of the mantelpiece, to be exact. Most of our Christmas decorations in this house have been collected one by one (or group by group) over the years and part of the fun when putting them all together each Christmas is remembering the where and when and how and why we bought them, or were given them, or made them ourselves for that matter!
I remember us buying this little fairy one year after Christmas, in the sales – she was sitting all alone in a sea of random leftover tree ornaments at knock-down prices but still she was smiling, so we paid 50p for her and took her home with us and have loved her ever since. At the time we lived in a small flat so didn’t even have the room to put up a proper tree, instead we just decorated the sideboard with the odd personally-chosen ornament or two, a practice which of course expanded every year as we built up our very own collection of bargain basement Christmas remnants so that today we have a unique festive family of ornamental misfits that seems to suit us very well.
So I suppose looking back over the years, many of my favourite festive memories are linked to the individual Christmas decorations I have known and loved at any given time. Every Christmas my sister still hangs a small red plaited fabric wreath I made for her decades ago, even before her children were born. My youngest daughter still hangs the larger green version we used to have ourselves when she was growing up. In fact she also still has the green candles shaped like Christmas trees from her childhood I bought one year and didn’t ever have the heart to burn. They’ve faded a bit in colour, but have now become part of her family tradition, taking over from ours.
The Christmas decorations I remember from my childhood in the 1960s were mostly made from coloured crepe paper, concertinaed bells and baubles and long magical chains that unfurled to festoon the ceiling like the trim on a frothy petticoat. We always had a real tree, too, that stood precariously propped up in a bucket and smelled of pine resin and shed little needles all over the carpet for the duration. On the tree there were very fragile glass baubles and more robust plastic versions that shimmered and shone, along with multi-coloured fairy lights and feathery silvery tinsel. We had a fairy for the top of the tree then, too, with plastic head and arms and body and painted hair and a long white lacy dress and stiffened underskirt that covered her lack of legs!
I know many people choose to change their Christmas decorations along with their room decor, or go for particular fashionable colour themes, but I must admit I’m not one of them. Much of my modest collection tends to stay the same year after year. Most are traditional white or red or green or silver or gold or combinations thereof, and they don’t so much match as go together in a kind of eclectic, organic mish-mash of memories that make me smile. Some things inevitably come and go, depending on circumstance, and some things stay the course. And I kind of like it that way, it’s less about aiming for a perfect ideal and more about simply making the most of what is in front of me and loving the reality of the result regardless :-).
It’s Saturday again and time for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness post, this week with the prompt of ‘tree’. All of a sudden (or so it feels) it’s two weeks today until Christmas and my Christmas tree is still currently residing in the loft along with the other decorations. Probably time to take it down and do some decorating. But this year everything feels so ominous, with the Omicron variant of Covid spreading like wildfire and no-one knowing what 2022 will bring for us all when it comes to this never-ending pandemic. Family-wise we have some serious ongoing stuff going on, so the thought of putting up a tree feels a bit irrelevant and trivial in the circumstances. But I’m going to do it anyway and mark the end of the year the way we always do, with the familiar rituals of the festive season getting us through the dark days of the winter solstice and hopefully on to brighter days ahead…
I’m not usually the most Christmassy of people, and although current Covid Christmas restrictions could potentially have given me the perfect excuse for simply not bothering much with any of it this year, I nevertheless found myself taking the box of decorations down from the loft earlier than usual and not only have I put up the Christmas tree but have also added a few festive ornaments and a string of sparkly lights to the mantelpiece.
With all of us here in the UK necessarily having an extremely pared-down minimally-numbered Christmas this year I felt a surprising longing, a need to create some kind of fun festive feeling around our home, as if we were still expecting a flurry of visitors at any time. We may all be physically apart this year, but we can all still share the emotion and experience of the same old family traditions that recognisably bind us together, but simply enjoy them separately, each in our own home.
We can still put up our usual decorations, over-indulge in the same kind of food we always eat, enjoy the myriad repeat TV programmes we usually watch every festive season, and remind ourselves that if nothing else Christmas 2020 has truly taught us to appreciate the value of presence over presents at this time of year. Being able to choose to be with those we love at Christmas is the best gift we could have, whether family, friends, fur-babies, or any other favourite loves.
To have that choice taken away from so many of us this year hurts, but hopefully it is a wound that for most of us will heal in time. We need to remind ourselves that losing someone to Covid lasts forever and so is a risk too far for many of us to take, especially with the promise of vaccines becoming available to all in the months to come. We are where we are in this current coronavirus crisis, but this too shall pass.
So for this week’s Weekly Smile here is a gallery of some of my favourite tree decorations bringing some much-needed Christmas cheer to my home and to my blog – hopefully the idea if not the actual baubles and trinkets themselves help bring a smile to your faces too. For me the ritual of trimming the tree feels wonderfully familiar, becomes a heart-warming task brimming with mementos and memories and magic, helping me feel close to those I hold most dear, however near or far, in this time of national sacrifice.
So here I am wishing a very Happy Christmas 2020 to all my blog friends, from my home to yours, and hoping for a better year for all of us in 2021 ❤