Well Christmas 2021 has been and gone and we are now firmly in 2022. Let’s hope this is going to be a positive year for all of us. But before we consign the 2021 festivities to our memory bank, we thought you’d like to read another of our stories to read online – an evocative article from Sue Andrews which touched our hearts…
Christmas is a time for memories, none more so than at the end of the celebrations, when the decorations are once more hidden away.
While a large tree stood centre stage in the sitting room when our children were younger, we now have a small one on a table, at the foot of the stairs. A potted tree, that early in January begins a new life in the garden, supposedly to be lifted and redecorated the following year, but so far this hasn’t happened, and the little trees grow happily in a variety of spots in the garden.
Arranging the tree lights is my husband’s job, as is replacing them in the decoration box on Twelfth Night. These usually work when plugged in, but no matter how much care he’s taken putting them away at the end of the festive season, somehow tangle themselves up annually.
Once the lighting is sorted, I’m left in peace to denude the tree of its decorations, packing them with care to store in the spare room. This is when the memories come flooding back, when there is time to remember, not just the chaotic rush to get everything done in time.
Glass and porcelain baubles are rare on our tree, the exception being one our daughter made of our youngest grandson’s hand print, celebrating his first Christmas. Luckily this came bearing a red ribbon, allowing its secure attachment to the tree. This is kissed, then wrapped in tissue paper before storing away to ensure its safety.
As I take down the little straw angels that have looked so beautiful gilding the tree, I remember my visit to the local hunt’s Christmas fair, over fifteen years ago. Disappointingly many of the wares were mass produced, but popular as endorsed by a well-known celebrity. Hand blown glass baubles at an exorbitant price brought women flocking to this stand. Credit cards were flashed for these delicate objects I knew would barely last the trip home with me, let alone the small hands searching for their golden coins and other hidden gems on the tree.
A young woman was selling her hand made straw angels that had taken so much time and love to make. A fraction of the price of the baubles, the five I purchased are always essential on the tree. When I look at them, I remember the gratification my purchase brought to their maker, and they have brought us equal pleasure over the years. I only wish I had kept a note of her name as visitors admire them so much.
Next is the stag’s head bought during a holiday in the Scottish Highlands. We’d called at a small village, and felt lucky that so late in the season a café and craft shop were open. After a delicious coffee and cake, I wandered round the craft area, hoping to find at least one item I needed to buy. After selecting some new place mats depicting sheep on the hills, it was my husband who saw the silver stags head, and we added him to our purchases. Again, as I remove him from the tree, I’m transported back to the little café nestled in the hills.
It’s four years now since our wonderful trip to New Zealand, returning in the middle of a cold grey December. The little kiwi souvenir with a Santa’s hat didn’t surface until the following April, when I next needed to use the suitcase, and there he lurked, still entombed in his paper bag. Every Christmas since he has decorated the tree, bringing unforgettable memories of warm seas and sunshine, a delightful memory on a cold English winter evening.
At another Christmas fair, this one definitely craft based, I bought some material baubles that again had taken someone many hours to make and are absolutely beautiful and far more suitable for a family tree.
An artistic friend made me a glass ‘Christmas stocking’ to add colour and texture to our display. When a friend who was leaving the country gave me a little wooden rocking horse, she poignantly remarked that by doing so she would be remembered at least once a year. So very true, although I do keep in contact and remember her on a regular basis.
Finally, the angel, who has stood on top of the tree for the past thirty odd years, is carefully replaced in her box. Her halo has been lopsided for many years and the tinsel at the bottom of her skirt needs sticking back regularly, but our daughter, now in her forties, always recognises her, saying “Oh you’ve still got the angel. I do love her. Do you remember when we bought her?” So who could replace her.
Yes, the tree may be smaller now, but is more than just a tree; it is a significant part of our lives, and one will probably be decorated every year, come fire, flood or pandemic.
Read more from Sue Andrews here
Great news! Sue has a wonderful new book out – more info