Christmas Past, Present and Those Yet to Come

Lighthearted view on why we keep our Christmas traditions
Lighthearted view on why we keep our Christmas traditions
A lighthearted view on our Christmas traditions and why we keep them.

I wonder how many people retrieved their Christmas decorations from the attic or from the back of a cupboard this last weekend, ready to decorate their homes during the coming weeks. My large boxes of decorations have grown in number from one to four, adding to the collection over the years. I don’t use all the decorations from all of the boxes, just selecting a few depending on the chosen colour to blend and not compete with the rooms decor or theme for the current year. However, some favourite ones are used each year evoking memories of Christmas’s past.

Vintage glass baubles. image from
Vintage glass baubles. image from

I have vintage glass baubles, still in their original boxes, given by mother during a house move, which remind me of our Christmas trees as a child. In another shoe box are an assortment of decorations my children made whilst at school, one of which is a felt ‘Father Christmas’, which now has a boot missing, but is always hung on the tree. The Angel or Fairy is the same one I had as a child. I did give her a bit of a ‘makeover’ a few years ago with gold ribbon and new wings, although now rather tired and jaded again she sits in pride of place on top of the tree, above the star, always last as the crowning glory. There is a green luminous rubber spider, once retrieved from a cracker which always creeps onto the tree – hung to irritate me of course. I remove it, and it manages to reappear as if by magic! The ‘tinsel issue’ always appears too. I prefer ribbon wrapped round, the others like tinsel. Silver tinsel can look great in the right setting – but not mine. It’s amazing too, how quickly foil wrapped chocolates disappear, completely on their own of course! However you choose to decorate your tree, like your interiors, ensure it reflects you and your personality.


Some decorations have been bought on holidays, beautiful Indian beaded stars, bells and trees. I have a Waterford glass Angel with a message etched onto it, given by friends. I think of them always whilst hanging it from a branch. We gather together to decorate the tree, and put on what the kids call ‘Cheesy Christmas music’, which is a family tradition. This year my son put on a South Park Christmas CD, which just wasn’t the same!


Choosing the right tree is not to be taken lightly. I love to observe people buying their trees. Without being sexist,  guys will generally walk in, pick up the first tree he comes to and is ready to go to the pay desk, until his partner stops him. Women tend to pick over several trees, and any  ‘possibles’ are held by the partner whilst she scrutinizes them. The trees are held patiently – sometimes offering suggestions which are often ignored. You spot the ‘perfect’ tree someone else has picked out and hover nearby hoping they will reject it, and eagerly pounce on it if it is. Conversations maybe struck up with other tree shoppers on the merits of each tree. Some people sing or hum along to the Christmas music being played, unaware that they are doing so. This process will continue for a while, until the perfect tree has been found, or the partner has really had enough!

The 'perfect' tree. painting by Carl Larsen
The ‘perfect’ tree. painting by Carl Larsen

1. Remember the tree will look smaller amongst the other trees when buying. Trees tend to ‘grow’ when placed in it’s designated area in your home.

2. Choose the position carefully. Furniture will often have to be re-arranged to accommodate your tree, but not to the detriment of comfort or the view of the T.V. Consider access to a plug socket for the fairy lights and ease of switching them off and on.

3. Height – measure your ceiling height. You don’t want to pay extra if paying by the foot only to find you have to cut off the top or bottom of the tree in order for it to fit.

4. Shape – Not too busy at the bottom, with a sparse top. A graduated triangular shape is ideal.

5. If placing your tree on a table top ensure it will not be too heavy to lift or for the surface to withhold the weight.

6. Think about the container  or stand for the tree, ensuring that it is stable and fit for purpose. You can always cover a plastic bucket with a grain sack, (a sheet of  crumpled Christmas wrapping paper is a poor effort) place in an attractive garden pot. Trees last longer whether with or without roots if you can water them.


My ninety year old, partially sighted mother puts up her small table top imitation tree each year in her flat and hangs the same decorations. The tree and decorations are from 1982, so very retro! The tree and decorations were my sisters, now sadly no longer with us, but the tree is bought out each year in memory of her. Although she lives alone, my mother enjoys the pleasure her tree gives, and thinks it’s worth all the effort.

I’m sure in Christmas’s yet to come, many decorations  will evoke memories and traditions carried on by future generations. Happy Christmas!

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