Joining with Amber on Mondays for concretewords, where we practice writing by communicating the abstract through concrete things – a Horse, a book, stairs – and today The Ornament (I think- I think – that Americans call tree decorations ornaments, so I’ve gone with that.) These concrete words posts have led me on a journey through childhood and nostalgia and spiritual maturity – I write and that’s what comes out at the moment. Join me?
We’ve got into a rhythm over the decade and more that we’ve been married. Jon drags in the tree, smelling of deep forest, and Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole prophesy ‘it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ over our sound system, and we start to unpack the tree decorations.
The lights are first: a mixture of multi-coloured and the more fashionable twinkling white. Some tasteful silver baubles, and some Ikea straw angels and bells for a Nordic and rustic twist. I direct from the sofa, ensuring the evenness of the display. It never looks like the catalogue ones, exactly, but it’s pretty good.
I remember the Christmas trees of my childhood: sometimes real but more often the plastic one from the loft.
The first ornament I would put up is made of paper. Santa’s eyes and red cheeks are shiny wax crayon, and his beard is cotton wool, matted from years of handling. On the back, it reads ‘by Tanya, aged 5.’ Next is a cup from an empty cardboard egg box, covered in chunky glitter, that comes off all scratchy on your hands. There are a few baubles that match – dark shiny silver like a starling, with glitter on the sharp point. One year we dropped one and the glass splintered everywhere. They were real glass.
Then there were the miniature presents, shiny red paper, a neat ribbon bow. A few of those were left but most had been unwrapped, and hastily and disappointedly rewrapped upon discovering that they contained just air. Any that formerly contained sweets looked like a scrunched up shell. There was tinsel – everywhere, in abundance – the thicker, luxurious gold and silver intermingling with the early ’80s thin-and-dwindling red and blue. My brother and sister would join me in the frenzy of throwing up these various ornaments, assembling our magnificent, chaotic, mongrel tree.
Two trees. Sometimes I feel torn between them.
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