Window No. 4

My parents had what I see as a traditional marriage. My father was in charge of the money. My mother was in charge of the house, and me. She was one of those people who tended to just put her head down and get on with things.Of course she had a good moan about all the work she had to do, from time to time, but for the most part she was very good at looking after us both. My father and I always had clean clothes and food on the table. Everything we needed from packed lunches to polished shoes to appointments made was provided for us. One task she did hand over though was decorating the Christmas tree.

When I was a very small child we had a green tinsel tree. That's the best way I can describe it. It's branches were adorned with what seemed to be green shredded paper. It always looked rather threadbare when we removed it from its box. The magic came when we added tinsel and baubles. I don't know where the baubles came from, whether they had belonged to my grandparents or if my parents had bought them during their married years before I came along, but they were a beautiful mishmash of delicate glass orbs and glittery figures. My mum would retrieve the tree and the decorations and leave my father and me to put it all together. The older, and taller, I got, the more the task fell to me, and my father just supervised. The only task he retained for himself was testing the Christmas lights.

Over the years, the tinsel tree was replaced by real trees (which my mother cursed because she knew she'd be vacuuming up pine needles until the end of January) and several artificial trees. We even planted a couple of the real trees in our back garden where they flourished until the new owners chopped them down. I don't know what happened to the baubles though. Somewhere between my parents moving from the house I was brought up in and their later deaths, the well remembered decorations were lost.

Nowadays, with a family of my own, we carry on the tradition of decorating our tree together. We have our own set of lovingly collected baubles that carry memories of their own. Since the children were born, we've lived in six houses, near four different cities and in two countries. Each Christmas there has been a new addition to our family of decorations. My favourite is a drunken snowman. My daughter's favourites are our angels. This year we'll buy another decoration, another memory.


  1. A drunken snowman ... how different, how quirky, how interesting it must be!

  2. We are decorating our tree today. I'm so excited. I love it. When I was growing up, we had a really old tree that you had to put the branches on. (Obviously it was fake.) The branches were color coded with paint on the ends, but over time the pain wore away and we had to guess where the branches went. It was pretty hysterical to watch us do it. Some people would've been frustrated, but we laughed the whole time. :)

  3. Fi, I must first say that this is a great idea. I have been reading your posts and enjoying every one of them.

    Our tree ornaments tell the story of our lives as a family, which I love, each different than the next. I have been giving ornaments to my kids every year since they were born, so that when they move out, they will carry some Christmas memories to their own trees.

    Your drunken snowman is adorable!

  4. A few years ago I started focusing on the traditions and not the hype. My first away from home Christmas was in London (newly married). I was pleased, actually overjoyed my husband like the eclectic tree and not a designer one. Since then, twenty years later (now there are kids) we buy a new ornament each year to add to the collection. Sadly we often have to bury one, but so far the ones we bought in the UK that first Christmas are holding on. Lovely post, Fi. Brought back that first holiday when I was terribly homesick and how much shopping for holiday decorations took away my blue heart.

  5. Good to see I'm not the only one who has lovely Christmas tree memories.

    Thanks for the comments.


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