Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Family History on a Christmas Tree

DSCF1188What does your Christmas tree reveal about you? Is it beautifully colour co-ordinated, reflecting this year’s home decorating trends? Mine is far from being a work of art but it is full of decorations that tell a story. The oldest decorations are nearly seventy years old and date from when my parents first married.
This rather scary looking choir boy has been on family Christmas trees since 1947. He is actually a cake decoration, which is why he is garrotted by wire in order to be hung on the tree.
Then there are the two plastic birds, one green and one red. They, I believe, were originally my grandmother’s. Although they are not budgerigars, to me they were always representative of the budgies that the family owned over the years. They always have to be hung with a red or green light behind them. Of the same era are the yellow plastic angel and a similar pink star and bell, again always hung by the appropriate coloured light.
DSCF1176They came with a set of stars and snow flakes. These consist of two halves so that they can slot together to form a three dimensional decoration. Over the years, some of the halves have been broken so we can no longer always match the colours but they are still precious.


There are also a set of plastic bells that no one could claim were anything other than decidedly naff. They are special too as my mum and then I, when I took over sole charge of tree decorating at the age of eleven, have hung them on our trees for six decades.

Baubles from the 1940s and 1950s still adorn my tree. My favourites were those with butterflies on and I still have those.

 They did meet with a disaster one year when a particularly resinous tree made them unpleasantly sticky and threatened to remove their paint. I did buy some similar ones from ebay just in case they were lost to me for ever but they were still on the tree this year.
From the 1970s, my fondness for Snoopy shines from my tree. There are decorations from my early married life and from the years since.
DSCF1175My daughters have taken the precious-to-them decorations to add to their own trees now but we frequently add to our collections by decorating parcels with tree ornaments. I have cross stitch decorations worked by my mother and daughters. There are hand knitted decorations and others that have been hand made.

DSCF1189More recently, I have taken to bringing back tree decorations from my foreign travels.
There are the decorations that have not stood the test of time but they live on in memory. There was the set of decorations whose stomachs consisted of concertinared paper and similar large balls and bells. There was the ‘Korky’ balloon, with a red nose, that was carefully inflated and tied with string, to be let down and re-inflated over a period of about eight Christmas seasons. Equally precious were the rainbow painted balloons. There were paper Chinese lanterns, which I do still have but which don’t very often make it to the tree anymore as they are now very fragile. These made the Christmases of my childhood a magical place.

So there you have my family’s history on a Christmas Tree. I do need a very large tree to hold them all but they have to be displayed each year. I am looking forward to sharing the significance of each precious ornament with my grandchildren. The story goes on as I have got my grandchildren special Christmas decorations that I hope will be on their trees throughout their lives.
Janet Few


  1. love this post, I have special Christmas tree decorations as well, they all have a little story to go with them. Each year I also buy my grandchildren a new decoration for their three.

  2. I've been trying to comment about how much I enjoyed this post, but so far no luck... I just wanted to say it rang a lot of (Christmas) bells for me. Thanks, Janet!

  3. Your post echoed my feeling so much. Like you, our tree is full of happy memories. With best wishes for 2016.

    Family History Fun


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