Every age is different and the age of my childhood was different from the present but no better, and no worse. As we approached Christmas when I was young, we had to wait for another week or so before decorations would appear in the town, and at home they would only go up a couple of days before Christmas Eve. I don’t remember people putting decorations in their windows like they do now, let alone decorate the whole outside of their houses. These days some houses are magnificently decorated, wonderful, and we wander round the streets looking at them and taking pictures . There’s a housing development near here, all new houses only a couple of years old at the most, and it’s like a fairy-land, nearly every house festooned with lights and decorations – absolutely wonderful!
At home when I was little we had the decorations in a box which we would take out and put on the tree, among them glass baubles hand-blown by my dad – he was a scientist and had to make some of his own specialist equipment so would also blow decorations for the tree! He put a tiny cork in the open end with a wire hook so we could attach them. I still have a couple, still silvered, still put on the tree every year. My sister and I would make paperchains; I guess the strips of coloured paper, pre-glued at one end and sold in packs wrapped with a brown paper band, were sold in the local shops. I don’t remember making other decorations, maybe we dd and I’ve forgotten.
Mum was so creative, I’m sure she decorated the inside of the house so it looked excitingly festive to me and my sister, but the decorations she used such as paper lanterns hung from the ceiling, and strings of thin shiny paper garlands which folded down into squares to be packed away, were used year after year, repaired with sellotape when necessary. We always had a real tree, and it was tradition that dad would buy it from the cattle market a few days before Christmas and it would stand in a bucket of water outside until Christmas Eve. It was brought in and decorated, maybe delayed until the last minute to occupy us children while we were waiting to go to bed, hoping to get to sleep despite our excitement ready to find our Christmas stockings on the end of the bed in the morning. I wonder if dad bought the tree at the last minute because it would be cheaper?
We didn’t ever think to want new decorations, or new things for the Christmas tree, although we did have new ones when the old paper ones disintegrated too completely to be mended. We liked seeing the things from the previous year, the traditional family things. I’m sure mum would never have dreamed of throwing them away and getting new ones, even if we’d been able to! It amazes me when I hear of people buying new decorations every year – ‘This Christmas we will be blue and silver/black and gold/all one colour/minimalist…’ I wonder what this year’s decorating trend will be? I’ve just looked it up and it’s going to be nostalgic, traditional, natural… sounds like we’ll be on trend without even realising it!
Here are some ideas: