Ever since I was a child I have loved decorating the Christmas tree. My mum (God bless her soul) would bring out our white artificial tree (so 60’s and 70’s, but back in vogue now) and all our old deco’s accumulated over the years. The vivid green elf with his red hat, grinning maniacally it looked like something from a horror film!! The carefully wrapped long glass baubles with gold inside (probably worth a fortune now, as so vintage).
My favourite, however, was the fairy. My mum had improvised one year, got one of our tiny dolls and dressed her in a dress made of pink loo roll (with the tube from the middle stuffed up her skirt to ‘give it volume!) Then we sprayed her with gold and sprinkled glitter over her and then, just to add to her indignity, stuck her on top of the tree with the tree stuck up her arse!!!
Every year that doll came back out, had different coloured loo roll put on her, depending on the fashionable colour of the time; and each year she was sprayed with glitter paint, silver, gold again, bronze one year, she looked like she had spent the summer holdaying in Bermuda!!! But I was hooked, I loved Christmas decorations.
As the years wore on my decorations have become more subtle, but I have never been one for those sterile trees, where all the baubles are the same, round and all one colour, like the types you see in shopping centres; for me they are soulless. When I first left home I bough some expensive decorations, and this year thirty two years later, I have used them again. They bring back memories of when I first left home and moved to Wolverhampton, or a small village nearby, of the lovely old neighbours I had, of the excitement I had of decorating my own tree.
From then on I bought decorations every year. Anyone who knows me will tell you I love things that glitter and sparkle, that ‘catch the light’ they mesmorize me. So over the years I have accumulated a lot. I progressed to garlands and they became more and more elaborate. I would have frost themed garlands, with colours of the sea when I lived by the seaside in England, or garlands laden with fruit decorations (very Georgian).
So this year my surroundings and circumstances have influenced me again. With the colours of the surrounding countryside, and the cold; the fact that our house is damp and drafty and over 200 years old, I was inspired to make up a Dickensian garland. It has berries, and deep red flowers, cherubs, and iced ivy leaves, with poinsetta running through it. There is a sparkling icicle garland that I picked up somewhere over the years, and the beautiful vintage candleabra that my lovely Mother in Law gave me, covered in crystal droplets. It just makes me think of Miss Haversham, sitting at her Wedding feast, where the ivy has grown i to the room and it is covered in cobwebs.
Since living here Rich has always wanted a real tree (which are inexpensive in France) and a dear friend gave us a gift of money so I finally relented and we bought one. My garland inspired me to carry on the idea and I got out my beautiful red and gold ribbons and threaded them through the tree ..
then I added all the red and gold baubles that I have not used for years (I tend to be a silver type of girl, it sparkles more!) I added to that some of the hundred or more crystal droplets I had also accumulated and now I love it. (Although I have to confess that the first ginpme I did it I had a few wines and was doung it in the dark! Add to that just as I finished a set of lights right in the middle went out and I added some over the top! Mmmmmmmmmm……..when I got up the next day it looked like someone had thrown things at it!!! So I took it all apart and redid it!)
As I hung the baubles I remembered the lovely purple glass one had been brought from Woolworths, now long gone, in Herne Bay
The gold round glittery ones, bought from Beatties Department Store in Wolverhampton, sadly also now long gone. The ribbons were inspired by my beautiful Edwardian House in Herne Bay, now a holiday home. The sparkling red baubles that glittered on the tree when my son and I snuggled up together as I read him ‘The Hobbit’ by lamplight. I was a single parent then with electric on a meter, so we had a blanket over us as we sat by our red shaded lamp and the lights of the tree twinkled, and it is a memory that will live with me forever.
Even the star is the first star I bought thirty two years ago, again from Woolworths, God I miss that place, and I miss my mum, who was with me at the time.
i look at the garland and remember going late night shopping with my mum when I found the iced ivy garland, now on my fireplace in France; and I think of my mum, who is no longer here. Or the garland on top of my armoir, simple with greenery (good old Woolies again) and silver stars, which were bought in France when Rich and I came over the first Christmas after our wedding. God! Little did we know then what we would endure, only to come out stronger the other side (but you will need to read my book for that story!)
The artificial black tree, smothered in crystals, including a crystal garland, and white decorations, makes me smile because I think of the little kitten that is Diddyman who would climb up into it, because after all she matched it’s theme! She was the kitten that helped to save Rich and I, and she would peek out at us from the foliage, and make us laugh.tDaryl and Tom
Someone said to me this week that I had missed my vocation, i should have been a professinal Christmas Decoration dresser, or window dresser. They are probably right they do inspire me. But what is important to me is that Christmas decorations should inspire memories, and create memeories for the future. So that when people, or a time, or places are gone we remember them and they make us smile.
This year our dear friend and her puppy are coming to stay, and my son, who I have not seen or hugged for three years is also coming with her. It will be especially memory making because his birthday is on Christmas Eve, and because you never know what life holds for you I intend to cherish every moment.
I urge you all to do the same.