Putting up the decorations
You may well already have the decorations up, but we’re almost always later in the month than most. I don’t like the way that putting up the decs has crept in earlier and earlier over the years, nor yet the fact that many people take them all down on Boxing Day, or even Christmas afternoon. It shocks me, because it seems to make Christmas entirely about the run up to opening presents and then having a huge meal.
Each year, when the big box of decorations comes down from the loft, I look forward to greeting old friends. I’ve never understood how anyone can buy a whole new set each year and throw the old ones away. Every item in the box carries warm memories, from the set of exquisite glass hedgehogs from my old friend Maria, to the bag of clove oranges. Putting up the tree, each decoration is chosen and held with love. As a child it was a process that was always done by my dad; the box included a set of handmade silvered glass baubles he’d made himself. He used to work in a pathology lab in the late 1950s and one of the skills needed was glass blowing as you had to made much of your own equipment. One year he made about 8 perfect little baubles, silvered them with silver nitrate and took them home for his first Christmas as a married man. The fifties in Britain were a time of austerity; rationing was still in place for the first half of the decade and scarcity abounded. Those baubles survived several moves, but by the time I was in my teens, there was only one left, and then sadly, that too was broken.
The first year we lived here, I found a set of baubles in a local antique shop, not antique but craft made in India, that were very like the ones Dad made. They have taken the same place, standing in for the ones broken or lost decades ago, in my family annals of good memories.