After a few days with my in-laws in London I’ve returned home with ideas for next year’s Christmas decorations. The angels in Regent Street were remarkable, the Christmas tree at the pop-up ice rink at Somerset House charming but by far the best, in my opinion, was the faux mistletoe fashioned from white baubles and ornate green metalwork topped off with silver glitter globes and Victorian lamps at Covent Garden. I’d like to do something similar on a smaller scale at home.
I even loved the oversized baubles fashioned from footballs covered in fabric scraps and braid made on the Christmas version of Escape to the Chateau. Such idealised guff needs to be taken with a healthy pinch of salt. It might well be styled to the max but there are some genius ideas among the sugar-coating. Even someone with my limited haberdashery skills let loose with a glue gun could succeed at this. Not that I could make it look as effortless as Angel Adoree. I know my limits – but my (un)walled garden is looking a lot more abundant in December than that of Monsieur Strawbridge. Smugness is never a good thing though!
Decorations have always featured highly at Christmas. I don’t remember a tree when I was very young. I’m not sure it would have fitted into our two – up, two-down cottage but there were candles, lots of greenery, holly wreaths and a multi-coloured pop up paper bell. Later, in a bigger living space there were a series of artificial trees – one of which my grandmother fell into after a drop too much Harvey’s Bristol Cream, necessitating a thirty mile round trip to A and E one Christmas Eve. I wonder what happened to the besmirched, lopsided angel/fairy who spent Christmas spread-eagled astride the tree-top in somewhat dubious fashion?
Our first Christmas tree was a tiny faux spruce artificial one acquired from the shop at Alexandra Palace when we lived at the bottom of the Park. We bought some lovely wooden beads and a few stars and baubles to decorate it at vast expense. They are still with us, although we donated the tree to a friend’s daughter for her bedroom some years later. Over the years the collection of tree ornaments has expanded. They all hold memories. I love unpacking them mud-December and laying them out on the kitchen table, reflecting on the best part of the thirty years during which we have acquired them. Some will leave with the children when they fly the nest. A more organised mother would have bought one ornament annually for every child until they left home. But I think they might prefer to choose their own. I’m sure they will choose their favourites from home to carry off at some point in the future.
Then, of course there is the set of hand-carved Russian Santa dolls which meant I went without lunch for a week to afford them, the beautiful ceramic nativity set and the Christmas bunting made by the mum of the lab technician at school. We bought nothing new this year except some lights to deck the laburnum in the front garden because of a December household reorganisation of furniture and books. (Yes there are cardboard boxes in the sitting room waiting to be sorted and/or charity-shopped in the new year). But next year there will silver globes, mistletoe and homemade oversized fabric baubles……..perhaps.