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The memory tree

December 17, 2017

I love decorating the Christmas tree. I’m sure it’s the same in many homes. It’s a trip down memory lane. A story of some sort is attached to every one of the decorations in that box in the back of the closet.

cb xmas tree

I had my doubts about the Charlie Brown Christmas tree my friend Dave and I liberated from some local land, but after I’d trimmed a lot of the branches and placed the decorations on the remainder, it turned out just fine.

Christmas tree

I know there is a school of thought that the angel or star should go on last, but not in my house. In my house, the angel goes on first.


This angel is almost as old as I am. She’s been on every Christmas tree in my life. Mum bought it in Woolworths for all of probably two shillings for the first Christmas tree we ever had. I doubt she could have imagined that so many decades later the angel would still be doing her duty. This angel has travelled tens of thousands of miles with me. Yes, she is definitely a bit frayed, but she’s an old lady now.

And what of the other decorations?

decorations numbered

The beautiful purple and blue balls (1) were a gift from my friend Mariam, with whom I worked at the Greenpeace office in Vancouver.

The blue and white decorations (2) are a Delft windmill and globe bought on different visits to Amsterdam.

What’s that tucked in behind the tinsel (3)? When I was still a kid, one Christmas my aunt made little stockings for everyone in the family. Hidden behind the tinsel is the Anne stocking. The one you can just about see is the Kay stocking.

Speaking of stockings, there are also a couple of basket woven ones (4). When my mother was released from hospital after a stroke in the late 1970s, it was winter. The weather was cold and miserable. I asked her doctor if it would be safe for her to fly, as I was thinking of taking her to the Caribbean for Christmas. He thought it would do her a power of good. So we went to Nassau. While we were there we bought those woven stockings.

Oops, I seem to have missed 5, so, moving onto 6. This glass ornament and several others on the tree were a present from a friend on the island – part of her first (bloody good) experiment working with glass.

One summer many years ago, Mum and I went to Stratford for a couple of days to see some plays. No idea what we saw, but in a village not far from Stratford, we stumbled across the first year round Christmas shop I’d ever seen. Amongst the decorations on offer in the shop were a number of beautiful wooden ones (7) – teddy bears and Santas and rocking horses and snowmen. Between us we spent a fortune on these. They are, as they have been for many years, dotted around the tree.

Also on the tree is the full dress uniform Mountie I bought in a Christmas shop in Banff and a snowman I bought in a Christmas shop in Edinburgh and a beautiful cobalt blue glass globe I bought in a Christmas shop in Prague.

And then, hanging on the back of the tree so I can see it from my desk, there is this one.


The typewriter ornament Mike bought for me because, as he said, whatever I might be doing for a living at the time, I was deep down, essentially and always a writer.

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas, all. I hope your tree is as happy memory-filled as mine.

From → Columns

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