Our family Christmas tree – from Christmas Forest
One tradition that is as central to our family Christmas as turkey and crackers is our Christmas Tree. As I see a world gone mad this simple tradition, taking a tree and decorating it in our home, becomes even more important.
This year I’ve become increasingly unsettled by the increasing commercialism of Christmas. I’m not talking about the careful choosing of perfect (or just downright marvellously silly) gifts, or wonderful family traditions, or a crackling stocking filled with gifts for a child. But the growing sense that Christmas has become more of a buy buy buy festival than a simple winter family feast.
The Christmas Tree is to me a symbol of all that is magical and traditional about Christmas, and yes – marvellously silly too. For what is more silly than taking a real live tree and placing it in your sitting room, decorating it with twinkly lights and old baubles, and admiring it? And what indeed is more marvellous?!
This year we were given our tree as a gift by the Christmas Forest (we picked up ours from the Ealing branch). And as they do something lovely – ensure a tree is planted in Africa for every tree sold – I was more than happy to share our experience here on my blog. The tree planting is done via Tree Aid, who help families in Africa earn a living by growing trees for sale.
I also love the fact that although the Christmas Forest has 10 branches across London, it was started locally – in Richmond.
Our family tree in 5 very important, very magical steps.
The choosing of the tree
Each year Chiswick Boy looks for the tree which contains the spirit of the tree we had the previous year. So each year we have the “same” tree. That’s one of our quirky little family rituals and mythologies (each family builds their own myths don’t they? Building on what they were told as children and adding some new ones).
Finding the “same” tree as last year came about because a few years ago Chiswick Boy was distraught when we took the tree into the garden on the Epiphany and Chiswick Daddy started to saw it up for kindling.
So we explained that the spirit of the Christmas Tree went back to Father Christmas on 6 January and would come back into a new tree the next year – we just had to look out for it.
2. The decorating of the tree
There’s no theme to our tree. It’s decorated with the collection of eclectic baubles and trinkets that have been gathered over the years. We add to it every year, and I really can remember where each and every decoration came from.
One of our favourite annual traditions is going to Peter Jones and choosing a new tree decoration each.
Plus we’ll gather a few extra bits as we see them. I’m always a sucker for fake berries and mushrooms, while Chiswick Daddy loves jolly Santas and snow scenes. Chiswick Boy loves little figures and felt gingerbread men the best.
3. The hunt for some working lights
I know there are some families who get down their neatly packed boxes of Christmas tree lights each year, and they always work. (I know this because I see these perfect families on Instagram.)
I have yet to get down the decorations and find the right number of sets of lights, let alone working lights.
This year I thought I’d cracked it. When I got down the Christmas boxes I found two sets of long, neatly wound up lights, just where I hoped to find them. My heart leapt. Until I realised that, inexplicably, they had no plug adaptors with them. They ended with that little metal attachment you pop into the plug. But no plugs.
So another three sets of lights were purchased! Light makers must love me!
4. The relaxing in the glow of the lights (once they’re working!)
One of my favourite bits of Christmas time is lighting a real fire, and sitting by it watching the twinkling of the Christmas tree.
I plonk on one of the three radio stations we listen to – BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, Jazz FM – and just enjoy the Christmas Spirit slowly taking root in the house.
Of course another type of Christmas Spirit (Baileys or a pink gin) also helps the warm glow spread.
Other essentials include a Christmas book (in December I try and read only Christmas books and watch Christmas films. I look forward to this all year!).
And a Christmas onesie. This one was brought by the elves for Chiswick Boy (see point 5 below!). I know they bought it from Hatleys on the High Street. Rumour has it they may have bought matching ones for Chiswick Daddy and me too!
5. The Elves return!
On the night we decorate the tree, the Christmas Elves come back from the North Pole! From this point until Christmas, each night they get up to shenanigans.
It could be emptying Chiswick Boy’s sock drawer to sleep in it, unravelling the loo roll and trailing it around the house, or simply pouring themselves a bowl of Rice Krisipies and diving in headfirst.
This is a cute tradition, and one I’d never heard of until three years ago when I found whole threads dedicated to it on the Mumsnet forums! Needless to say we’ve fallen in love with it.
So there you go – our Christmas Tree tradition in five steps, from the choosing of the tree to the elves returning.
What are your Christmas traditions?
Our Christmas tree was a gift from The Christmas Forest. Thoughts, words, pictures and family traditions are all my own!