Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas Trees Past And Present

They have sprouted all over Blogland, all kinds, all shapes, all sizes. I started to reminisce. To my surprise, I had no memory of Christmas trees being around, until I was about eleven. Before that, we'd lived in the top flat of a three storey building which was simply a large house - not purpose built apartments.
The landlord and his wife lived in the flat below, and I can imagine they'd not have been too happy if great trees had been lugged up all the stairs - not that I can even remember trees on offer in the shops. In that department, my mind is a complete blank...Perhaps it was simply because, in a town like Portsmouth, trees had not arrived commercially. There certainly weren't any growing outside our doors, waiting to be dug up!

So, in the 1950's, when we'd moved to a larger flat with more room and even higher ceilings, tall Christmas trees became a yearly event to look forward to. The Aged P's, who back in those days were relatively young forty-somethings, did all the choosing, decorating and clearing up of the pine needles when the whole festive thing was over.

Through my teens, as I became more and more dubbed 'the arty one', I gradually evolved into decorator in chief. Then came the year when our large, extended family was scattered to the four winds; one cousin and family in Tunbridge Wells, the other cousin and hers, far away in Gibraltar.

Mum decreed there'd be 'No tree this year!'. She had a tendency to side with the 'Bah Humbug' brigade on the commercialised Christmas question. Many years later, after she'd died, I found the possible explanation as to why. I found a letter from an Army Officer to Ada, (Gran) informing her of the death of her son, Arthur Charles. The letter was dated 21st December 1918.
He was the brother closest in age to my Mum.

Be that as it may, my brother and I , after a whispered conversation about the state of our pocket money coffers, decided a tree was essential. Saturday morning, off we trotted to a local shop and for the princely sum of eight shillings, bought a six foot specimen; as pine scented, prickly needled, and bushy as could be. That Christmas, at least, was still going to have all the trimmings, if we had anything to do with it.

27 comments:

  1. This kinda hits home. I've a friend that moved back to Cheshire only to find her da isn't expected to be round much longer, so I can see why your mum would have had the humbug blues. We've not tree, as yet but will per'aps get a small one( hopefully to-day ). 'Tis a wonderful yet sad tale you tell but I like the ending, I do. Best wishes and blessings, luv :)

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  2. We all have a few bittersweet tales of Christmas I guess. I remember a couple of Christmas trees from childhood being Cedar ones, with their dull-green-weak-droopy branches, they must have disappointed me. As a grownup, I still have an unfair dislike of them, even the ones on the property, except for the stately-large-older-ones.

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  3. Now that you mention it, I can't remember when we had our first tree. Seems there was always some sort of a tree. And the electric lights were huge compared to what they are today. I think the one I remember the most was one with the bubble lights and Mom had a set of mirror things that looked about like a slide you see people using in the movies, under a microscope. They had a string hanging from them and small pictures painted on them. Over the years they slowly got broken. One year my Mom finally said they weren't getting a cut tree, they were using an artificial one. Dad wasn't too happy about it, but with Alzheimers I don't think he really knew what kind of tree it was. Also at that time I was taking some ceramic classes, I finished this rather large table tree, used all clear decorations on it. It's really quite pretty when it's put together and plugged in. My niece got it down from the upstairs the other day for my Mom. It's too hard for Mom to go up and down stairs and carry something with much weight to it. I went to visit her this past Friday and she told me when Christmas is over, she wants me to take the tree home with me and use it. So I thought I would and I'll set it in the living room next year on an end table rather than use the fiber optic one that's in there now. We have an artificial (white) tree in the family room with blue lights and blue decorations. I told the daughter and granddaughter living with us at the moment, when they move out again, they can take the tree with them. It's a six foot tree, I don't need one that large.

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  4. Ah, you had a nice reminisce there Jinksy - always a good thing to do around Christmas.

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  5. good for you and your brother!

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  6. Christmas perseverance. I think nothing better.

    There are always so many reasons behind every decision.

    Deck and be well.
    xo
    erin

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  7. we always had a real tree (quite small) when we were children. But now I have a small silver one with pretty things on it. that will have to do!
    Christmas is a time of reminiscing!

    Nuts in May

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  8. Jinksy

    We have, what we refer to as, our Christmas twig. It's quite a small artificial tree, but beautifully decorated. It's just won the approval of our eldest granddaughter this afternoon, so we're happy. Mind you, she has a real one at home!

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  9. Deck away, Deck away, Pen and all...

    We are sorrounded by beautiful pines. Yet, people still pay a fee and drive miles into the forest to choose and cut their own.

    People get lost, and may die in this pursuit, stranded, unable to find their way back to civilization, mostly because they didn't plan to get into problems. We just followed a story of a couple gone for the afternoon, who became stranded for two nights in freezing temps.

    Paying for a tree at the lot is a small price to pay for the convenience. Appreciate the fact that it took optimal conditions to make the tree grow and magically appear at the lot.

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  10. You and your brother kept the spirit of Christmas.

    Now, I'm casting my mind back. Hmmmm.

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  11. That was a nice thing of you and your brother to do, Jinksy. All these memories that Christmas brings.....it really brings them out at this time of year, doesn't it.
    Blessings, Star

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  12. I love what you and your brother did, you know jinsky I have only good memories of Christmas as a child....my mum was a real Christmas person, and we had many traditions to look forward to every year. Being the youngest of six made it even more special for me I think I was a bit spoiled.....I love Christmas..Hugs

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  13. What a wonderful Christmas that must have been for you and your family. You and your brother brought the Christmas spirit home! Way to go Penny - and you made some lifelong memories in the meantime.

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  14. I enjoyed your story of Christmas past. I think it's great that you two had the gumption to go out and buy a tree on your own.

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  15. I guess Christmas is a marker of events in our lives.

    Similar but opposite was my Mother's overwhelming Christmases which I associated with her birthday being on Christmas Eve. Since she grew up in a near poverty setting, it probably was joyous to be able to celebrate and give even with budgetary restraints. At least there was a budget.

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  16. 29 years of cut christmas trees that we have been harvested all by our self....something i probably shouldn't be proud of but is is a tradition...not all of them need to be positive...love the putz

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  17. Unfortunately life goes on and pester power isn't a new phenomenon.

    Watch out for my next post!

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  18. Wow! You made me cry. Beaultiful post!
    Jenni

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  19. Hello Jinksy,

    For many years during my childhood we had a rather simple artificial tree that had widely spaced tiers of horizontal branches. It was decorated from a tub of baubles that never varied, unless one smashed, and clumps of cottonwool snow. But it was the finest tree imaginable!

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  20. Well, since nobody else has asked the question, I will. What was Mum's reaction?

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  21. Yes Christmas can and does bring back memories of Christmases past, and people past. Sometimes good memories, sometimes sad.

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  22. good for you and your brother!

    did you two also do the decorating?
    Christmas trees are a relatively new invention but we seem to have become conditioned to have them, regardless of price, the work involved and age.

    I love the whole taradiddle, it's the only time of year I become all gooey and sentimental.

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  23. what a great memory. I especially liked the image of you two carrying that pine scented prickly needled tree.

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  24. Yes, grief does impact the way one views the holiday season...so hard...but so lovely that you and your brother changed that!! And I'm sure with your wonderful artistic talents that the tree was beyond beautiful!!! Wonderful memory, Jinksy!! Love you! Janine XO

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  25. It's so funny thinking back to our trees. They always caused a fuss with Dad and the Grease bucket he would stand it in and it was always wired to the wall for support!

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  26. What a wonderful post jinksy. I love the story of you and your brother. I will always have a tree, always. I love the decorations and the greenery. I have for the first time, bought an artificial one this year but it's 'Tesco's finest' and is quite beautiful (I think you've seen it)!! I never manage to use all the decorations I have.

    My parents were quite Christmassy and always had a real tree with those huge lights! I became chief decorator quite early on in my life. We had paper chains we made with my brother and sister and those fold flat bells and things to hang. They got very tatty over the years. Mummy made long streamers from crepe paper and machined them down the middle to make them twirl. Wonderful days.

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