On December, the 11th, a bauble reminded us that it was high time
to think of the Christmas tree
And this is a difficult choice this year. I hesitate between the real full tree without roots (enough trees in the garden without planting another fir tree), the investment into a fake one (but some are so awful), a bouquet of branches cut from the surplus of the existing yew trees and/or pine and fir trees (not too big but shall I have the proper instruments to cut the branches, and will the trees suffer from my wild and disordered pruning or not?), a modern composition or installation of bare branches sprayed or not with white paint, for instance.
Chances are great that the wild pruning to make the bouquet will win. There are quite a large number of yews near the house; they have not been pruned since before Mother’s death and need to have “a haircut”; their branches are supple and light enough not to need great efforts to be cut, and may be arranged gracefully in the adequate container that I shall find easily among our various vases and clay pots. Unless the cleaning lady gives me a hand to install a real tree without roots.
We never had an artificial tree even when we were abroad and in flats. Father and Mother always managed to provide natural trees or bouquets more easily manageable. What changed a lot was the decoration.
When we were at home, we had the real thing with the roots that was planted afterwards in the garden, and semi Victorian or Edwardian (real and pseudo) decoration.
We had the traditional decorations as well, with themes: sometimes all golden, sometimes green and red, sometimes like tartans with the assorted ribbons, once silver and purple in a dash of fancy and modernism. It depended in fact of where we were that year. It was more traditional when we were in the Dordogne.
Mother enjoyed decorating the tree with my sister – I think that I have already mentioned that I have two left hands, which in my case is two right hands as I am left-handed, and therefore not of much use -. I suggested colour schemes and was able to draw the map of the decorations. I say decorations as Mother loved to have not onlly the tree but the whole sitting room, the dining room and the little dining room cum kitchenette (in this house) decorated with garlands, ribbons, bows, cards in temporary frames as ephemeral pell-mells, all manners of things that she created, cut, assembled, glued, pinned, knotted and fastened.
But in the last years when we were all together, Mother had turned to things more natural: string, oranges and lemons, cloves, pommanders, cinnamon, wooden ornaments, and ribbons.
All this was done with music and singing: the favourites like “Messiah” and the traditional French and English carols. Sometimes, the music is the same, the words only are in different language. My sister was a devoted help, trying no to drop anything and not to break baubles! In the last years, she was in charge of the decoration of the tree, with gentle indications and directions given by Mother – some corrections in the balance of the ornaments afterwards sometimes as well!
This is what we have done these past two Christmases, The Girls and I. And what we shall do again either on Sunday or at the very beginning of next week. They will be officially in charge of the decorations and we shall spend an afternoon of pleasure followed by a well-deserved rest. We shall go natural again. It is more in keeping with our mood. But we shall add white ribbons as we did last year. And we shall have our “White Christmas” come rain or sun or – who knows? – snow…
All this starting with a bauble!
Ave Maria – Schubert – Maria Callas