Sunday, December 10, 2006

Decorating the Christmas tree

Christmas tree ornament. I skipped off early from the mini-Webstock presentations on Wednesday night and went to my book club Christmas dinner instead. I'm so glad I went. The women at book club are soooo nice, and funny, and just plain good to be with. At Christmas we each buy a book, wrap it up, and after dinner we randomly pick a number which corresponds with one of the books. The book I "won" this year was Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. As it's one of my Top 5 Movies of All Time, I was very pleased to get it.

The other reason why I'm really glad I decided to go was an invitation from Barbara, to us all, to help her decorate her Christmas tree later on this month. I was inordinately excited to be invited, so much so that Barbara had to ask me why the wild enthusiasm?

It goes back to when I was a kid I suppose. Doesn't everything that's magical about Christmas stem from when you were young? I think so.

Christmas tree ornament. Sometime in December dad would come home one day with a great big Christmas tree, which we would set in a tin bucket with bricks around the trunk so it didn't fall over. We'd put it in the corner of the living room, and then, with great ceremony, we'd decorate it.

Dad would do his bit first, which was to arrange the strings of fairy lights around the branches, attaching the electrical cables to the branches with little plastic-covered bits of wire so they wouldn't fall off. Then it was our turn. Mum would have brought down the box of decorations from the attic, and we'd all dive in. The box was filled with other little boxes and old paper bags, and inside each box would be found (wrapped carefully in cotton wool or tissue paper) a single precious bauble.

Christmas tree ornament. You never quite knew what you'd get when you opened a box (although as we generally used the same box for each bauble every year we did come to recognise some of them eventually), so the whole process was hugely exciting, and full of tingling anticipation. I remember my sister ate one once. That wasn't so good. It was a really nice one! :)

I had two absolute favourites. One was a tiny little white ball covered in rough white glitter, with a tiny white pipe-cleaner stuck on one end which you hooked round a branch. It looked just like a mini snowball. The other was a larger double teardrop-shaped electric blue bauble (pointed at both ends and wider in the middle), which was very special because at the widest mid-point it sort of turned in on itself to create a round, fluted silver indentation. It was just beautiful.

There were little bird-houses made of wood, each with a wooden bird inside, old decorations we'd made ourselves out of egg cartons covered in glitter, funny little brightly-painted wooden figures, plus baubles and balls of all different shapes, sizes and colours.

In the paper bags we'd find the strings of tinsel we always used, and somewhere in the big box there'd be the Christmas angel (who looked more like a fairy) and a gold star. We liked the angel best so she generally ended up at the very top of the tree.

Christmas tree ornament. The final task, once everything was in place, was to throw on the silver rain. This consisted of long narrow strands of silver "stuff" (like the individual strands which make up tinsel only much longer) which you grabbed handfuls of and kind of "threw" at the branches, hoping some of it would entangle itself in the pine needles and stay there. If you were being careful you could place individual strands by hand, but that was incredibly time-consuming, so we generally did the throwing first and the hand-placing to fill in the gaps afterwards.

Once we were finished, and the boxes and paper bags had been packed away carefully to use again later, we'd stand back and just... admire. Once it got dark dad would perform the very solemn ceremony of Switching On The Christmas Lights, and we'd all ooh and aah because it was so pretty and sparkly. I don't think we had those fancy lights that blinked on and off - or maybe we did - it's quite a long time ago, now... but anyway, it was all quite magically beautiful.

Sometimes at night I'd creep into the living room when no-one was in there, and I'd switch on the fairy lights and just sit there, watching the tree quietly sparking to itself. It was lovely.

Christmas tree ornament. I haven't had a Christmas tree for years. Now I'm a grown-up, and because I don't have kids, it's never really been a priority for me. I'm the only one who would see it (apart from the cats) so I've never really thought it was worth it. Plus I have no decorations!

So... to have the opportunity to go to Barbara's house with a whole bunch of people I like, and to listen to Christmas music and help decorate her tree will be just lovely. She freely admits she's a complete control freak when it comes to decorating the tree - it has to be just right, the tinsel has to be just so, and you have to decorate "with depth". Brilliant! I know just what she means!

Instead of gifts she's asked us each to bring a 65-word story on My Life, which we'll read out at some stage and try to guess which story is from which person. 65 words!!! Blimey! I can write a single sentence that's longer than that! How am I going to cut out the verbiage I generally come up with and stick to only 65 words?

Christmas tree ornament. That last paragraph was 65 words, by the way. If you count hyphenated words as one word and not two. I can see I'm going to have my work cut out for me. What fun!

BTW, all the pictures on this page are of Krinkles ornaments. I found them while looking online for a nice Christmas tree picture (I don't have any pictures here of our real tree) and I think they are so cute and funny and whimsical, I decided to borrow a few. Angelic Dreamz Krinkles Shoppe. Merry Christmas!

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