Open any Christmas magazine and you will be inundated with advice on how to decorate your home for the festive period. What colour scheme will you choose and should your theme be Nordic, country cottage or Narnia this year?
On the other hand, you could be like me and bring out the same old deckies that you’ve had for years and welcome them like old friends when they come down from hibernation in the loft (hopefully free from squirrel damage or damp). For me, Christmas isn’t about what other people think when they come through the door; it’s about happy memories from different stages of my life, as well as friends and family, some of whom are no longer with us.
Here are a few of my favourite decorations along with the happy memories that are associated with them.
When I was three, I woke up during the night on Christmas Eve to find Rudolph eerily silhouetted against the curtains. My big brother had placed him there and had accidentally woken me up. A quick jingle of bells, fortunately, sent me back to sleep, but it is still one of my earliest memories.
Black Cats Poster
Well, I’ve glorified this by calling it a poster. In fact, it is a piece of wrapping paper that my sister gave me to put up on my wall in the 1980s. I liked it so much that I rolled it up at the end of that Christmas and I have put it up every year since. The corners have come off where the blobs of blu tack have ripped the thin paper, but I still love it. When my son was little I used to lift him up to count the cats and Santas.
Snowman and Santa
These were knitted by my lovely grandma who passed away thirty years ago. Christmas wasn’t complete until she arrived for the holidays. She had a magical knack of making Christmas very special. As well as these little tree ornaments, she used to knit us jumpers and hats which we always appreciated.
Red Reindeer from Fine Fare
This is special because my mum bought it for me in the early 1970s, when we were doing our weekly shop in Fine Fare. She didn’t normally give in to pester power. He’s now lost some of his glitter and has dents in his once-velvety body, but he’s certainly earned his place on the tree.
Cardboard Snowman and Star
Need I say more? My son made these at nursery so how could I possibly ever throw them away?
Mangled One-Eared Teddy
People might well ask me why on earth I hang a mangled piece of red polystyrene on my tree, but this will always remind me of my adored tortoiseshell cat, Spook, who was, in fact, the least destructive pet you could wish to own. One Christmas, however, the devil got into her and she swiped the bear from the tree, clawed it and chewed his ear off.
RIP Dancing Mouse
When I shared a rented house in the 1980s, my housemate’s puppy stole my much-prized dancing mouse from the tree, leaving behind a lump of chewed-up plastic in a little pool of glittery sick. It was irreparable, but every Christmas we remember the incident and raise a glass in memory of naughty Mutley the mouse murderer!