Christmas is all about family traditions, isn’t it?
I just rather wish I personally hadn’t come up with so many
Life would be very much easier as we helter skelter towards the Big Day, if I didn’t have so much to do. I am not talking here about major
supermarket shopping trips, or planning to feed a small army – I am lucky enough to be spending Christmas with My Boy, the Darling Daughter in Law and the Three Little Welsh Boys so I can’t claim to be In Charge of Christmas. Nevertheless, I have
to keep up with all the various seasonal traditions which I have introduced over the years into family life and which come back to haunt me, year after year. Today it was the tree decorations.
Way back in 1997, when the oldest two grandchildren were born, we thought (or, rather, as Mr B would correct me, I thought) what a good idea it would be to buy a special Christmas tree decoration for them each and every year.
Looking into a future which at the time seemed so far off as to be mythical, I mused that, when the time came for each of them to move into their own home and buy their own Christmas tree, they would have a readymade collection of tree decorations to take
with them. I didn’t waste time considering that they might be sharing their new abode with someone categorically opposed to anything but the most tasteful of tree decorations. It didnlt occur to me that I might be storing up Domestic Disputes
The decorations we bought that first year were so beautiful – tiny glass teddy bears. In fact we had to race out and buy the second one when
Jack arrived unexpectedly early. We were so pleased to find another glass bear, exactly the same as the first. Every year since then, we have bought another decoration – and as the grandchildren kept arriving, so the number of decorations needed
grew too. Katie and Jack will receive their seventeenth decoration this year; Hazel her fifteenth, Eleanor her fourteenth. Their parents have started to complain (mildly at the moment) about the sheer number of tree decorations and the fact that
this means they have to purchase the largest tree which will fit in their houses just to accommodate all the children's tree decorations. The Eldest of the Darling Daughters went as far as to buy a second tree. The Little Welsh Boys, being little, have
only amassed sixteen decorations between them but I am anticipating some parental protest about over-burdened trees any year now. The Middle of the Darling Daughters has no complaints – but then this is only Faris’s first Christmas. Wait
till he’s Jack’s age, opening Tree Decoration Number Seventeen and then trying to put them all back in the correct boxes after Christmas.
problem this year was that Clinton Cards seems to have stopped selling those really useful red, gold and silver cardboard boxes which came in just the right sizes for almost every decoration we bought. Instead I purchased little brown boxes from Hobbycraft
and had to spend the whole morning decorating them so that they didn’t look so, well, brown. I was quite pleased with the finished product but it did mean that I didn’t get round to writing the Christmas cards or even more important things
like sewing up the donkey (see previous blog.)
Talking of traditions, it is ages since I last had the pleasure of watching a school or playgroup Nativity
Play – but if you click on The Way We Were, you can read an account I wrote back in the 70s taking a critic’s eye to the annual school Christmas concert.
The Middle of the Little Welsh Boys has his school Nativity Play coming up. He is playing the part of an ox. I emailed his Dad a copy of that beautiful poem by Thomas Hardy about the kneeling oxen. I know that, at five years old, James
won’t really understand it, but I hope it might make him consider the importance of the ox to the Christmas story.
Poor lad, he doesn’t aspire to be
Joseph, or a Wise Man or even a humble shepherd – but he says he really, really would prefer to be “a human”.
It’s not much to ask, is