Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas tree reflections.

We put our Christmas tree up the other day.  Every year I promise myself that it will go up at the beginning of Advent, but it never seems to work out that way.  Anyway, we managed to make it happen.  It is an artificial tree, but it has been part of the family for so many years - about 20 I think, and it is still looking good.  It will see many more Christmases yet.
James was so excited to see the tree and all the bags and boxes of decorations come down from that mysterious hole in the ceiling.  He ran around, pulling out decorations, exclaiming "Oh - do you remember this lovely thing - and this?"   Of course he wanted to hang the decorations on by himself, so I managed to suppress my perfectionist designer urges, and just go with the joy (at least until he is not around to see me surreptitiously move them around)

Over the years, like most families, we have amassed quite a collection of tree decorations, some tacky, some glamorous, some handmade, and all cherished. - I can recall where each one came from, and many have little stories that we remember each year. This rather dishevelled angel was one of the very first things I bought for my very first tree.  We keep trying to fix her hair, but she resists our efforts.The little woolen figure was made by Kristine when she was younger, and every face she drew looked like that. It makes me smile each year.  I also love the knitted Santa, that I bought when I worked in a Stroke unit. One of the relatives made them and sold them to raise funds for the ward. I think of those patients and their families, and wonder how they all fared - their lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye. 

One year I bought a set of beautiful jeweled fruit from a garden centre that was closing down - 2 apples and 2 pears.  They are so heavy, but I love how they sparkle and shine.  I also remember, from the same shop, but the year before, loving these delicate clear glass balls, they look like bubbles and reflect the light so beautifully.  Sadly I only have one left now.  The golden deer was purchased from yet another garden centre, on one of my last jaunts out with my Mother. It was one of our favourite lunch spots, and afterwards we enjoyed browsing around, and watching the amazing number of birds that flocked to the bird feeders. A trip before Christmas was always obligatory to see the seasonal displays.


The shiny pink fir cone is part of an unmatched set bought one Summer afternoon in a Paris flea market. As far away from Christmas as you can get, really, but what lovely romantic memories they hold.
When my elder daughter was very small, we visited a former colleague of mine one Christmas, and as we were leaving she asked Karen if she would like to chose something from her tree to put on hers.  She chose this little red stocking.  The years passed, we moved on to other jobs, our roads diverged, and we lost touch, but I still think of her every year as I place the little piece of felt on the tree.



It is not just the decorations themselves that stir the memories.  The boxes they are stored in have their own stories too.  This cheerful box, which now stores glass baubles, was originally a Diwali present from a former colleague of my husband.  I can still taste those sweet mangoes - they were, just as the lid says.  I love to see this sunny, brightly coloured box, as much as the glittering decorations it now contains.


It is more than just tinseled trinkets that hang on those branches - our lives dangle there too. As I decide where to put our disheveled Angel, am I the same woman who first wondered that 30 odd years ago? How have I changed? What has remained the same?   I am reflected in the windows, and on the shiny baubles, along with the coloured lights, so this is a good time to look at that image in the glass, and turn inward to see if it matches up to the person I am inside. As we head towards the Winter Solstice, these memories and reflections blaze out,alongside the Christmas tree but we need the darkness in order to really see them clearly.
Solstice blessings to all.

14 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, as each Christmas tree decorations gets unpacked so do all your memories and stories. We had a very eclectic collection until the year my (then young) son's cat attacked the tree one night as we all slept and destroyed all but one or two of them! Now we have a collection that Jeff's then 94 year uncle had used saying that he wouldn't use them any longer but the next year at 95 he went out and bought more! he is in a rest home now at 96. We do have a collection of a few other bits and pieces that tell stories of people and times past.

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  2. My favorite kind of a tree, one full of stories. My tree is up with its lights, but awaits my daughter's return from college to put the decorations on it, probably Saturday. She wants to invite her Grammy over for the tree trimming, and I think that's a good idea.

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  3. How lovely now that James has Christmas tree memories. He must feel very old and wise.

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  4. yellow crocs lol! I was just thinking about writing a similar post today too and as yours is so lovely I think I will. hugs x

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  5. Lovely, thoughtful post as always Jacqui.
    Your tree is truly stunning, especially so for the memories it holds. Our original decorations belong to our childrens memories of christmas and so have been shared amongst them for their own trees. Our tree now is decorated with the boys handmade adornments, we are enjoying these days they want to be so involved in this part of the season.
    Blessings to you all.
    xx

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  6. Jacqui, this post is just truly beautiful, soul searching and inspirational.

    We put our tree up before Pip's birthday, that story I'm sure I blogged last year!! We've bought a real one this year, but I will try and think about the memories as the decorations are hung, neatly or haphazardly depending on who's decorating at the time!!

    Big hugs to you and thank you so much for your healing words.
    San xx

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  7. J- Your tree looks lovely- and what a nice story about the little stocking from your former colleague-

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  8. A beautiful post and a beautiful tree I love the little stories for the decorations. The Angel hair is ment to be like that ask any threee year old. Our treee died this year we lost the base and are scared of it falling over so have a real one not that I have seen it yet as I am to weak to go downstairs. Have a greeat Christmas XXX Don

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  9. What a lovely post. Our tree is like yours, full of memories. It's amazing how I can remember where almost every single decoration came from. As with you, some bring back loving memories of people we have fallen out of touch with. I'm also very lucky to have some old decorations that I knew as a child, handed down from about 100 years ago through my family. There can be a power in Things!
    I also really agree with what you say about the need for darkness to appreciate the light, on a number of levels.
    I hope you're keeping warm and all you need during this snowy, snowy December.

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  10. Truly, a lovely post. A mix of emotion there, eh. Brought back some lovely memories of shopping with "Mom" for me.
    Your tree is lovely and I love that bay window it sits in (I tried to find you in the reflection-am I missing it or did you 'hide' in the tree?).
    In the first photo, I just cannot take my eyes off that gorgeous butterfly! I wish I had a few like that! And, is it me, or the camera angle or has James taken another growth spurt? It looks like he will be tall.
    Well, enough rambling-have a wonderful, magical weekend and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful tree!

    [did I remember to tell you I love the new header photo?]
    meggs xx

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  11. Beautiful tree Jacqui, I love all the memories a box of decorations holds, it was just the same when I was little too at mums, lovely! Your house always looks so warm and cosy, and I love the picture of the tree against the window, beautiful!

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  12. That's a beautiful post and a really lovely tree! I had to throw out a lot of our Christmas decorations a couple of years ago as we had a bad mouse infestation and they were in no fit state to be hung on a tree. I still have the Fimo decorations that I sat and made with the older children when they were toddlers and also a Santa that I won at school in a colouring competition. As you say, I love the ritual of bringing these items out each year and seeing the children hang them on the tree. xxxxx

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  13. Jacqui I really enjoyed reading this beautiful post. I also love taking them all out once again each year, and the memories come flooding back. Solstice blessings to you and yours x

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  14. Thank you - i am so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing some of your stories too.
    I think James looks very wise and sure of himself in that picture - you do when you are 4. it was so sweet as he 'remembered' his favourites.
    I did think, as I was writing this, that I should give karen that little stocking - it is hers after all.
    xxx

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