Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Taking Down the Christmas Tree



I took down the Christmas tree today.  When the kids were little it stayed up until 12th night.  It’s still a very special time of year for my little family, but, these days, once the important dates are passed, I feel as if I need grab the momentum and all the promises the new year holds in store, and put the season behind me for another year.

The night of the 5th, when “the 3 Kings visit the children of Spain with gifts” will be special for me in a different way, because I’ll spend it with friends, one of whom, at a year and half old, will be the star of the night, of course….may the Kings be generous with him!

When my sons were small, it was their job to trim the tree, and that continued right up to Guy going to the States in 2002.  The tinsel is replaced from year to year as the shine is lost and new must be bought, but most of our ornaments have been bringing us happiness for years and years, and many of them have their own stories, so that opening the box, which I carefully pack away each year, as I am doing now, with tissue paper and cinnamon scented candles, is a delight in itself.

First the star has to be taken off, because it trails strands of silver over all the branches.  We bought this in 1997, and the shine is definitely gone, and there are less strands every year. For a while now I’ve thought each year would be the last, but I couldn’t part with it, and for a couple of years there has been an angel, waiting in the wings, to take over top-of-the-tree duty, but this wasn’t her year to debut either, and the star is back in the box –decision delayed for 12 months.

That angel, like some of my other decorations has a bit of magic.  She was a gift from my dear friend, Maggie, along with some other shiny knick knacks, and the cutest porcelain Christmas elephant you ever saw!  Well, you’ve probably never seen a Christmas elephant – I certainly hadn’t until he arrived, all carefully wrapped and in tact a few years ago.  This year a Christmas goose joined the group.

I love the way how, when I open the box each early December, and after I’ve inhaled the cinnamon perfume, all the lovely memories come tumbling out.  Another good friend, Joyce, fills every nook and cranny of her house with Rudolfs.  The famous red nose comes in every shape and size imaginable, much to the delight of her grandchildren.  So the Rudolf candle holder she gave me, oh, must be ten years ago now, reminds me not only of her, but of her family and her lovely house at this time of year.

After the star is put to bed, I make a cushion of the Christmas tablecloth and serviettes which we’ve had since our first year here, so if the box gets bumped about in one of my frequent house moves the fragile, glass ornaments are safe.  On top of those, wrapped in tissue or the wrapping paper from special presents I’ve received (even the wrappings have memories) go the stronger baubles; the cheerful, red and white bell which Austin knitted in infant school, a paunchy snowman from a Christmas spent in England, several glittery red or white apples from that same Winter, and a plastic Mickey Mouse, wrapped in the same Disney World bag which has always been his non-Christmastime home.  Then another cushioning layer – the stockings my sons have had since their first Christmases, they haven’t had them filled every year, because over the past ten one or other of them has been in some other country or other, but this year they were used again!

Next goes a layer of tinsels before the fragile baubles, wrapped in layer upon layer of tissue are carefully put away.  Some of these we seem to have had forever, and others, like the ones Guy bought one Christmas in England hold special memories.  That was the year that I thought, because my kids were grown-upish I could have a “designer” tree.  I’d seen them in all the stores, and my theme would be red and gold, colors I don’t normally use in decorating, but love for Christmas.  Guy was around 14, and I knew he’d be knocked out by the opulent display at the local garden center.  There is nothing like these displays in Tenerife at all.  And there it all was, in all it’s shiny, light-twinkling, carol-playing COLORFUL glory!  Each color had its own section, and we went off in separate directions to take it all in.  Even when I’d left England in 1987 things weren’t quite so abundant.  I scooped red and gold tinsel and baubles for our English tree, and we met up to compare finds.  Guy’s arms seemed to be full of a rainbow, and I felt it necessary to explain my “plan”.  It was already half-hearted, seeing all those colors, and Guy explained his own vision, which was a riot of color and fun.  It didn’t take long to realize how right he was.  I’ve never tried to create a “designer” tree since.

In fact, it put me off “designer” just about anything.  It made me realize how motherhood had changed me, and for the better, I think.  My kids had taught me about having fun, and I knew it was time to let go of that other person I’d been before.

So now the box is filled and sealed (to keep out roaches hopefully!), and all the memories are on hold for another 12 months.  I just need to remember from time to time about the color and the fun :=))



Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

5 thoughts on “Taking Down the Christmas Tree

  1. “I just need to remember from time to time about the color and the fun” …. this is so true of life in general! What a great story!!

    • Thank you. It’s led me to muse on similar things, but right now I am nursing a cold and feeling neither fun nor colorful! Mañana!

  2. my tree came down early too. it was dried out and droopy, baubles weighting down the branches and starting to fall off! not much needle drop as we get a type that doesn’t. it is bagged and waiting for the next tradition – burning the tree. the smell and crackle is quite amazing – not to mention the heat.( we have an open fire – not talking bonfires) the garden centres you mention are amazing with their displays – a new one called Barton Grange (famous for its men’s flower shaped urinals) does things like big themes – this year was different films. last year(countries) you went in to be met by a gondola complete with gondalier, and much Venetian glass on the tree – ofcourse no one is going to to that at home but people flock to see the displays and get new ideas and the tills ring merrily. I stood behind a lady with a trolley load that came to well over £100 (last year) which made me feel slightly sickened – almost obscene – what some people could do for £100 – the whole Christmas maybe? for some needy folk. enough said.

    • Open fire – yay! Worth suffering the cold for – although I appreciate you might not be thinking that right now!

      The one we went into was on Queensway (I think) somewhere around where Jean Gregg used to live (now wondering if I got that name right too?).

      It’s an unanswerable question, isn’t it. If everyone decided not to celebrate Christmas next year, but give the money to Shelter (English homeless NGO) instead, there would be a lot of people who would have a much better Christmas and maybe even a life changing experience, but equally, how many people would it push into unemployment? Shops, restaurants, bauble makers, farmers, butchers, bakers and yes, for once it can be said in context, candlestick makers! might go out of business. Whilst, yes, Christmas does seem excessive it boosts sales for both retailers and manufacturers at a time of year when we would all just hide under the duvet until the warm weather otherwise. Everything is marketed these days, even the Catholic church advertises on tv here, and Christmas is the biggest op of all. I have no objection to that, not being religious. Here there is seasonal work, it’s reduced unemployment numbers, and I suppose it does in your neck of the woods too.

      If she could afford it, (i.e. she wasn’t putting all that on her credit card or anything similar) then she’s ok – what WOULD be nice, though, would be if folk cut down just a bit, and gave the difference to NGOs. That wouldn’t hurt anyone and would help a lot.

      • yep – you must have gone to Trebaron (close to Jean Gregg’s) which is still there, and I still go sometimes, so close to our old haunts, and I can see Granny Parkinson’s house across in the distance!
        Try to find Barton Grange Preston on the internet (also add the words urinals) and see what a fuss they caused!!

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