“Be careful with those ones” I said, as he took some vintage baubles out the box. “They’re very old, they belonged to my Grandma.”
He looked so crestfallen I simply could not let him see I was sad or cross. “ It doesn’t matter - the clasps on them were very old anyway, they probably would’ve fallen off even if we’d hung them on.”
“Yes Mummy, you’re right. It just fell off then when it was in my hand..I was hardly touching it."
In a milk tray man like moment, Husband appeared and placed a glass of champagne on the mantelpiece before disappearing. I raised my glass to the heavens and closed my eyes. Cheers Grandma.
Pre-children I would spend hours on our Christmas tree. Hours getting the lights right, then placing the baubles; large ones first, followed by medium then small. Next I'd place the more ornamental pieces; painted blown eggs from Prague, glass candy canes from Sweden, Faberge Egg imitations from...(Pottery Barn if you must know) and of course, Grandma’s decorations. Each was hung with care and precision as it took me on a trip down memory lane. Finally, the tin fairy on top; Husband’s job, and the only part of the tree decorating he was allowed to participate in (apart from the regular refilling of the champagne glass).
My dominance over the Christmas tree decorating proceedings is not surprising. When I was a girl, my father always decorated the tree. It was always put up and decorated on Christmas eve. We were not allowed to touch it or to help, maybe the odd bauble here or there, but for the most part, it was his creation. To be fair, it was amazing. His parents had collected many wonderful decorations over the years, some of which, they'd passed to him. Instead, we would sit in the darkened lounge, watching, three of us in a row, by the flickering light of the fire as he painstakingly took his time placing each and every bauble. How I longed to get involved, my fingers itched to place decorations on the tree and create something spectacular. Yet it never was. Only when I finally left home and had my own tree, did I get to decorate one myself.
One of the joys of having your own family is that you get to make your own traditions. From the very start, I have tried to involve Pip in the decorating of the tree and he always helps Husband put the fairy on the top. The final flourish. At five and a half this year he has reached the sweet spot for Christmas. His face is flushed with excitement, his eyes shine and he is full of belief. And I adore his total lack of want. As long as Father Christmas brings a remote control dinosaur and a craft activity he will be happy. Today he is visiting Daddy’s work with homemade gingerbread trees to give to all the other people in the office. He is beside himself with joy.
As I looked at the tree last night, I saw the lights were out of sync, flashing on different settings and some Poundland skeletons left over from Halloween had been placed on the branches. Possibly a year or two ago I would have removed them, preened and rearranged. But I’ve let them stay. I don’t want to be remembered as the mother with an OCD about the Xmas tree. I want Pip to remember decorating the tree with me each year as one of the highlights of Christmas. I want him feel free to add his own embellishments.
From outside the house, I can see the fairy lights winking through the gauze privacy blinds. It looks magical, enticing. I’d like to live in that house I think. And then I remind myself - I do. Our first Christmas in our ( new) house. I’ll just pinch myself. Getting here has felt like a marathon. This year has been tougher than I could have ever imagined, incredibly busy and frequently stressful. I am limping to the end. I have managed barely more than a handful of blog posts since midsummer, not through lack of desire to write, but lack of time and energy.
As I burnt the midnight oil this week finishing my photo calendar for 2015, picking my way through a year full of (often fuzzy) snaps, it struck me just how very much we have done this year - and - how many happy times we have had. Looking at the boys smiling faces, as they've grown, developed and had fun over the year, really made me reflect - that despite feeling exhausted, I am incredibly lucky.
My hopes for 2015 are simple. To have more energy and more time to spend with my family, my friends and doing the things I love. As I sit here and watch one set of tree lights on disco and one on slow fade, I am determined to make that happen. As Pip said to me last night at bedtime... “ Next year is a special year for you, Mummy - isn’t it?”
“Why’s that, darling?"
“Because it’s your big birthday Mummy” “You’re going to be Thirty -Ten”
Thirty Ten. I love like the sound of that. 2015 is looking good already.
A very Happy Christmas to my loyal and lovely readers. See you in the New Year. xxx