Friday, 17 December 2010

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How shiny are your baubles.

You may have gathered that I quite like Christmas. Back near the start of November I felt like it was being forced upon me but since we returned from New York bearing adorable Christmas tree decorations at the end of the month I've been really getting into the festive spirit. I even have red glittery Christmas bauble earrings to prove it.

One of the highlights of the Christmas season, for me anyway, is to decorate the house for Christmas. When we were younger my sister and I spent a lot of time in our granny and granda's house and there would always be one Sunday near the start of December when my granny would declare that the decorations were going up. Her house was like Santa's grotto by the time it was finished - a real children's wonderland. There were a million Santas and navitity scenes and snowmen and snowglobes and (rather strangely) a set of plastic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (always along the windowsill looking out into the street).

My granny passed away about ten years ago now and my granda hasn't really "done" Christmas ever since - it still makes me a little sad to walk past the house near Christmas and see the living room window all gloomy and stark instead of the warming flicker of an electric candlebra and Bashful, Grumpy, Doc et al. Don't get me wrong, it was all entirely over-the-top, but it felt like Christmas. However the torch has since been passed and my mother's house is now our family grotto, allbeit an entirely more tasteful one. It's hard not to relax into the glow of the blue fairy lights and the stares of the many Santas and snowmen adorning the hearth, enjoying that festive feeling.

As for my own house, well, the Yorkshireman and I like to create our own mini grotto too. We have our fair share of snowmen and Santas and electric window decorations to brighten up the place, not to mention some singing and dancing reindeer (complete with ringing bell!). The Yorkshireman is always calling for more festive bunting and in fact I think we have a paper-chain-making session ahead of us sometime soon, since he came home with some coloured card the other day. But for me the centrepiece of any grotto is the Christmas tree. It's such a weird idea - let's chop down a big green tree, drag it inside where it will surely drop its needles all over the place, and then cover it in shiny things until you can barely see it any more. However, props to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for making them popular because I love 'em!

It's not just the twinkling fairy lights and the shiny tinsel and beads (although they are entirely fabulous), but I think the decorations on the tree add to its charms. Perhaps not if you've just bought baubles in bulk from Asda and are entirely dedicated to a colour theme, but if you go down the route of the little individual decorations that each hold a memory, a Christmas tree can really make you smile. Take ours for instance...

(NB: I'm going to attempt to use photos here - I am not a good photographer like the Yorkshireman and have no idea what a ISO setting is and tend to stick to the "auto" setting, so I can only apologise for what you get!)

The Tree

This is our lovely Christmas tree in all its festive glory: the decision to buy a pre-lit tree was perhaps one of my better ideas!

The New York decorations

The Starbucks red cup decoration I trawled half of Manhattan for.
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The shoe decoration I bought in Chelsea Market - good Crusaders colours!
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I was going to include a picture of the cute little snowman we bought at Tiffany's too but it turns out that amateur photography and transparent crystal decorations are not a match made in heaven, so you'll just have to use your imagination I'm afraid!
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The Honeymoon Decorations

We bought this gorgeous glass decoration in Mauritius when we went there on honeymoon last year. Getting it home in one piece was a challenge but it made it!
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There are two of these plastic glittery stars on our tree (if you can even pick it out against the tinsel). We know that they are the tackiest thing in all of Tackdom but that was their charm when we saw them in the giant 'Jumbo Score' hypermarket near Port Louis and they've been merrily shedding glitter on us ever since.
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The Just Getting Started Decorations

The Yorkshireman and I got our first flat together over in Yorkshire in mid-October about 6 years ago. He was still a student and I was working in a call centre so we were quite cash-poor at the time, especially after having to decorate and furnish the place from the carpets up. However my aunt very kindly showed up, like a Christmas fairy, about a month before Christmas and whisked us off to Morrisons and Woolworths' Big W to equip us with the seasonal basics, like a tree, some tinsel, some baubles and something for the top of the tree. We've never forgotten her generosity and in fact many of those first decorations are still with us...

... like the purple tinsel, the silver beads, the beautiful glass baubles and the little pink bells (that do indeed ring in a very festive manner!). I love putting all these up every year.
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And then there is of course the star on the top of the tree. The Yorkshireman is not a religious man and so a star was more fitting than an angel. This was our very first Christmas tree topper and, even though it's just plastic, I still love its simplicity and shininess!
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I remember, coming up to our second Christmas together, buying a set of 3 of these stained glass ornaments from a friend who was an Avon Lady and feeling so grown up to be buying beautiful and fragile glass decorations for my own Christmas tree. Somehow, despite the Yorkshireman and I each having a somewhat clumsy side, they have lasted 7 Christmases and about 3 house moves, including to another country. Bet I've jinxed myself now and I'll end up crushing one before the night is out somehow!
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I can't even really remember where we picked up the little set of wooden Christmas tree decorations but they seem to have been with us forever. They're so traditional they remind me of the wooden toys children used to get "back in the day" - you could just imagine Santa's elves making them in their workshop in the North Pole, so they always make me smile.
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We of course have loads more decorations and I do have memories attached to most of them - even the red and transparent glass Christmas tree decorations I bought in Ikea last year on a shopping trip with my mother! So for me our Christmas tree is more than just a colourful seasonal centrepiece - it genuinely makes me smile again and again and I look forward to adding more unique and special ornaments to it in future years to help me remember those times fondly too.

That said I'm currently sitting in my dark bedroom, looking out at the neighbours' Christmas decorations glowing in the snow instead, so I'm off to enjoy my own in the living room... there's only so much manic flashing of red 'Merry Christmas' signs a girl can take! Also the seven foot snowman the people across the road built today is freaking me out a little...

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