The countdown to Christmas has seriously begun, every year it seems to come round quicker and quicker and now here we are with just over a week until the big day. Time to get decorating. I know for many of you this is late, but I guess it is a family tradition, when I was growing up the tree never went up until the 23rd, I’ve brought it forward somewhat. It’s a date that is looked forward to with great anticipation, it’s very much a family affair that takes all weekend and more!
First up there is the trip out into the garden with at least two trugs waiting to be filled. Despite our more than soggy weather of late we managed to find a few fine hours to cut and gather and then we got to work. The fireplace is where I like to have fun, our pair of golden doves are resident all year round but they seem to come into their own when swathed in fresh foliage
and with the advent of my online brocante shop this year it seemed only right that a piece of antique French Ironstone should be included. Who says a tureen has to be just for food?
We’ve had the gold apples which are made of wood for as long as I can remember and each year they make an appearance.
Some things never change, very rarely do I go out and buy new decorations, unless I see something that really catches my eye that I know will carry memories well into the future. However, I do like to mix it up a little and for some reason this year I decided that I really wanted to embrace what we have growing and thriving in our own garden. It was rather an organic affair, one idea led to another, I found myself heading outside armed with secateurs several times to cut yet more foliage, concentrating on ivy (always good to remove and thus doing a little work at the same time) and juniper which smells so fabulous.
Perhaps it is the troubled times around the world, it wasn’t a conscious decision as such, but something in my sub conscience wanted to keep everything as natural as possible, to embrace the simplicity of evergreens. In my childhood every picture in the house had a sprig of holly or a piece of ivy over it, and I’ve recreated this idea but I like to think a little more artistically, letting the ivy fall naturally and trail in its own unruly direction.
Our entrance hall is the first thing anyone sees when they come to visit and having only just finished completely redecorating it I knew it could not escape a sprinkling of festivity.
But one has to remember that this is a busy household of 7 plus two dogs and one house cat. People are coming and going all the time, school bags, sports bags, shoes and of course, as it’s winter, coats, thick winter wear that all has to be readily accessible. You see there is no point at all in getting fussy, this has to be robust decoration for the real world and a real family!
And just to add a little rustic touch to all the sparkle I put the huge bunch of holly in an old zinc bucket.
Finally we turned our attention to the star of the show, the tree itself. We chose it last weekend amidst our usual half hour debate at the garden centre, extolling the merits of each tree and not content until we had chosen the perfect specimen, the children wonderfully stubborn and vocal with their choices! But despite such good planning as luck would have it when it came time to bring it indoors yesterday it was raining. In came one sopping wet tree, out came the mops and towels as we let it drip dry on the tiled floor for an hour before decorating could commence! Millie started with the lights, our ceilings are high, about 11′ or 12′ so you can see the size of the tree, a ladder is vital!
Every year the children take it in turn to put the star on top. With five of them this means they only get this honour once every five years and trust me it is a Big deal! This year was Jack’s turn. Everyone was called to attention, camera at the ready, by the time he gets the chance again he will neither be at school nor a teenager!
When it’s done there is nothing left but to sit back and admire and enjoy it for the coming weeks. There is no theme to our tree, ever. These are all decorations which tell a story, many are gifts from a very dear friend in Connecticut who we haven’t seen in a very long time, but she knows who she is and every year we toast her as we individually unwrap each of them. Another firm favourite is our Nutcracker from friends in Kentucky. It’s a time of year when traditions are important and absent friends are never forgotten.
With a house nearly decorated and lots of empty boxes and a lot of tidying up to do we awoke this morning to a kitchen filled with sunshine and breakfast talk seemed to be all about gingerbread houses. “It’s ages since we made one” was the general opinion and that’s true, it’s a few years since I iced and decorated with little helping hands.
Later in the day I was taking Millie to catch her train back to University. A last week of exams to get through before her holidays begin. I had no idea that those little hands which are now so much bigger had made plans. Hetty had been designing in her head and looking up recipes for gingerbread. She baked the house, cutting out the shapes for the windows and doors long before it went into the oven. This was not a kit house, not available here anyway, this was made from scratch! She persuaded Roddy to take her into town to buy a mass of candy at the supermarket, open until midday on a Sunday. Yes it’s sugar overload but wow, this is what greeted me on my return. The attention to detail is what grabbed me the most, the icicles, the wreath above the door, the dark brown doormat. It is of course way too good to eat but certainly worthy of several photos!
And that expression, caption it if you dare because I truly don’t know what she was thinking!!