I send granddaughter Eleanor a photograph of my sorry-looking skeleton of a Christmas tree, surrounded by twiggy bits of branches, loops of green and red holly tinsel and a box of decorations. “Our Christmas tree
needs you!” I write.
Eleanor and boyfriend, Nathan, will be arriving tomorrow - they will be on a mission to transform our poor pretence of a tree
into a Thing of Great Beauty. Over the weekend, with help from my Little Sister and her fella, our living room and hallway have had a festive makeover. Garlands have been hung over the windows; greetings cards have been displayed on strings pinned to ceilings
and door-frames; our rather beautiful candle decoration is gracing the mantelpiece, where it has been joined by the wooden reindeer bought for us a few years ago by granddaughter Hazel Bagel and a tiny pewter nativity which belonged to my dear Mum. The tree,
however, has been left for tomorrow...
Over the years, my approach to decorating our various homes for Christmas has changed. Watching that BBC programme “Back
in Time for Christmas” recently, I recognised many phases I too have passed through. Such as those colourful paper chains which you had to stick together - maybe they will come back into fashion in these eco-sensible days? I’m not so sure, to be
honest, about those over-sized bells which you had to unfold to reveal in all their tissue paper glory. For younger readers of the Daily Blog - you don’t know what you are missing!
When my Foursome were small, we really went over the top with the decorations, considering we had failed in our Decoration Duty, should any part of the living room ceiling be bereft of sparkling tinsel garlands. We had a tree which
lived all year in the back garden, to be dug up every Christmas and festooned with as much silver lametta as any self-respecting tree could handle. I am sad to tell you that the summer we moved house, that tree died. It might have been the long, hot summer,
of course, but I knew better...
In more recent times, we have gone, if not quite minimalist, then Easy Peasy. I even have loops on my garlands which slip easily
over convenient knobs on the curtain rails. The tree, however, must still be decorated in its customary style - is why Eleanor is coming over tomorrow.
and sister Katie used to come to stay for several days a year pre-Christmas, the decoration of the tree was one of our (many) traditions. When we were completely satisfied with our efforts, we would make a sign, denoting the year, and capture the moment on
camera. This was important as, from year to year, the appearance of the decorated tree hardly changed - but the girls did. I still have the photograph where Eleanor, for some reason, decided to turn her back on the camera.
For the last few years, I have been decorating the tree on my own and it simply isn’t the same. Especially as I usually have to make do with the accompaniment of Escape to the Country on TV rather
than festive music playing in the background. When Eleanor heard this, she immediately decided that this year would be different. Or, rather, not different but a Return to Days Past.
So we will spend a happy afternoon trying to remember which branches fit into which holes in order to form a perfectly symmetrical tree. We will unwrap each bauble and remark on its origin. Finally, we will place on the very top most
branch, the reindeer which grandson Jack made in 2007 or thereabouts. We will fashion a sign saying “2019” and take a photograph or two to record the happy scene. It is possible we may even recreate the time when Eleanor turned her back on the
For Old Times’ Sake...